What is giftedness?

There is no universal definition.  Some professionals define "gifted" as an intelligence test score above 130, two or more standard deviations above the norm, or the top 2.5%.  Others define "gifted" based on scholastic achievement: a gifted child works 2 or more grade levels above his or her age.  Still others see giftedness as prodigious accomplishment: adult-level work while chronologically a child.  But these are far from the only definitions.  Former U. S. Commissioner of Education Sidney P. Marland, Jr., in his August 1971 report to Congress, stated:

Gifted and talented children are those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. These are children who require differentiated educational programs and/or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize their contribution to self and society.

A group of respected professionals in the field of gifted suggest a definition based on the gifted child's differences from the norm:

"Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally." The Columbus Group, 1991, cited by Martha Morelock, "Giftedness: The View from Within", in Understanding Our Gifted, January 1992

Most definitions agree: gifted children are a population who have different educational needs, thanks to their unique intellectual development.  What we're not so sure of, is how to identify them, and what this different education should look like.

Resource: Hoagies Gifted Education Page