There is much debate in the literature and among professionals working in the school setting as to what constitutes a “gifted” student. Clearly, these students are successful in an academic setting however there is much more to being gifted than receiving high grades. In many instances, these students also often collaborate well with others and have an inherent sense of creativity. However, these qualities do not always walk hand in hand with a traditionally high Intelligence Quotient. In fact, as pointed out in Borland’s 2009 article on gifted students, it may not be possible to quantify “giftedness” on some statistical scale like IQ is defined.

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Whereas eye color, height or weight are all measured quantifiable data points, intelligence is something much more complex in nature. Some experts have even argued that IQ tests only have the ability to capture certain aspects of intelligence (Borland, 2009). Many have reported instances of other forms of intelligence that may all play a part in whether or not a student is gifted. Those that have been proposed over the years include but are certainly not limited to, emotional intelligence, sensory intelligence and social intelligence also known by its more colloquial name, street smarts. It is undeniable that some individuals who do not perform well on standardized measures such as IQ tests still have great potential and, in fact, many successful individuals today do not have high IQ scores respective to their high levels of success (Mckenna & Webb, 2013).

There are many myths associated with gifted students. One of the most common is the idea that gifted students all fall under one singular definition. In reality there is likely not one measured property that defines a gifted student. Thus, the myth that 3-5% of students in a district should belong in the gifted program is unrealistic and naïve (Borland, 2009). Measures such as IQ tests should be interpreted with great caution because they might certainly overlook a student who is in fact quite gifted in academics and/or creative endeavors. In addition, there are some students who are particularly drawn to one means of expression. For example, many gifted students would pursue music over math or english over history. That is not to say the student is not gifted, instead it might be important to develop programs that play on the students’ strengths while similarly helping them to recognize and weaknesses and improve in these areas as well (Mckenna & Webb, 2013).

Some might argue that while being a part of a gifted program is certainly positive for the students who are invited, there is no harm to those students who are not included. However, research has shown that many bright young people suffer from anxiety or self esteem problems when this genius is not challenged (Olimat, 2010). Many smart students feel that they are not being recognized for their potential when they are not a part of the gifted program. Similarly, in modern days many of these programs are beginning to integrate counseling practices into the platform. This allows bright students who may be more susceptible to depression or anxieties to have someone to talk to. It can also allow for coaching in future career and academic decision making. The reality is that while only 3-5% of students may be recognized as gifted, 100% of students would likely benefit from strategies used within the gifted program (Borland, 2009). Rather than creating a class that allows only a certain portion of the school population to participate, schools should be flexible in how they work with all students not only those that have a high potential for success.

  • Borland, J.H. (2009). Myth 2: “The gifted constitute 3% to 5% of the population. Moreover, giftedness equals high IQ, which is a stable measure of aptitude.” Gifted Child Quarterly, (53)4.
  • Mckenna, Jacqui, and Jo-Anne Webb. “Emotional intelligence.” British Journal of Occupational Therapy 76.12 (2013): 560. Academic OneFile. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.
  • Olimat, M. (2010). “Gifted Students.” Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences (5):112-114.