What is Gifted Education and How do I find out if my child qualifies?

Parents seem to fall into one of two categories regarding the word Gifted. Parents who already know about gifted services offered by many school systems for children who have tested into a gifted program and those parents who may be wondering what is defined as a 'gifted learner'. The United States Offices of Education define Gifted and Talented Students as "those who have outstanding abilities, are capable of high performance and who require differentiated educational programs (beyond those normally provided by regular school programs) in order to realize their contributions to self and society." Most school districts, if not all, offer gifted programs or a curriculum for gifted students. Every city has different guidelines regarding who is tested, when and how. Here is a chart, from 1996, that shows which states offered gifted programs. http://nces.ed.gov/Programs/digest/d00/dt055.asp. As the latest, available table from the US Department of Education on State Legislation for Gifted Programs is ten years old, it is possible that even those states that did not offer gifted services ten years ago do now. You can call your child's school to find out if they offer a gifted program. If they do you can ask for details about testing or referrals and when children are considered for the gifted program. If your child's school does offer a gifted program for those students that qualify, you will want to learn about the process before your child reaches the appropriate age for testing. Although it varies by school system, most schools that have a gifted program test, or accept referrals for students that show signs of a gifted learner, begin in 1st or 3rd grade. Often a teacher or parent can request that a child be considered for testing into the gifted program through filling out a referral (this would be done during a specific period during the appropriate school year). In some school systems, every child in 1st grade is given the initial test to determine if they should be further tested and considered for gifted services. Most school systems do not screen every child and it is up to a parent or teacher to learn about gifted services and the process. A common test given to screen children for consideration into the gifted program is the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT).This test is usually given in a group setting and the tests are not IQ tests. Instead they look at each child's general ability through questions that require them to use non-verbal reasoning and general problem solving skills. Another test often used to determine which children are gifted is the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test. This Group test focuses in 5 areas: Verbal comprehension, Verbal reasoning, Pictorial reasoning, Figural reasoning and Quantitative reasoning through both verbal and non-verbal questions. A great article to read about being an advocate for your child, whether gifted or not, is linked here, as we all want to make sure our children get excellence in their education. http://www.dukegiftedletter.com/articles/vol5no4_connex.html A great post asking are Gifts and Talents Innate? http://www.dukegiftedletter.com/articles/vol6no1_ev.html Parent has a gifted child and the school is not offering acceleration. http://www.brainy-child.com/expert/NNAT-scores.shtml