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Who Is Currently Identified as Gifted in the United States? PDF Versão para impressão Enviar por E-mail
Escrito por Scott Barry Kaufman.   
Sexta, 16 Março 2012 14:36

Today, lots of different definitions of giftedness exist. This wasn't always the case. Prior to 1972, practically every school used one criterion and one criterion only to identify giftedness: an IQ cut-off of 130. This criterion was heavily influenced by the pioneering work of Lewis Terman, who equated high IQ with genius.

Then the first federal definition of giftedness came along in 1972, which was undoubtedly an important step forward. Noting that only a small percentage of the 1.5 to 2.5 million gifted school children were actually benefiting from special education services, former U.S. Commissioner of Education Sidney P. Marland, Jr. proposed a broadened definition that went beyond just IQ to also include specific academic and creative aptitudes. That report was important in its broadening of giftedness.

A more recent report released by the National Department of Education in 1993 ("National Excellence: A Case for Developing America's Talent") kept the multidimensional definition of giftedness but once again lamented the sorry state of gifted education. In the report, Secretary of Education Richard Riley called gifted education the "quiet crisis."

Various psychologists have put forward their own pet theories of giftedness. Howard Gardner proposed eight independent abilities: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. Robert J. Sternberg proposed a synthesis of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity. Other researchers have added psychosocial traits to the picture. In Joseph Renzulli's Three-Ring definition, giftedness is conceptualized as the interaction of high ability (top 15-20 percent of any domain), creativity, and task commitment. Francoys Gagne's Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT) includes traits such as motivation and temperament as catalysts that help transform gifts (e.g., intellectual, socio-affective) to talents (e.g., academics, social activists).

This all well and good, but what's the reality of the matter? How do states actually define and identify giftedness in the United States? Has anything actually changed since the Terman IQ cut-off only days?

To look at the current state of affairs, Mary-Catherine McClain and Steven I. Pfeiffer recently conducted a national survey of current state policies and practices (soon to be published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology) to assess how states define giftedness, identify giftedness, and accommodate gifted minority students. This is what they found.

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