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Frequently Asked Questions

INTRODUCTION

Florida legislation has identified gifted learners as a part of the exceptional student education population since 1968. In Florida, students are eligible for exceptional education programs if they meet the criteria outlined in Florida Board of Education Rule 6A-6.03019, FAC. These criteria focus on a learner’s need for the gifted education program, entry academic skills, general intellectual functioning, and various behavioral and intellectual characteristics.

If your child did not meet the specific criteria set by the state for gifted learners, Orange County Public Schools will strive to develop educational avenues designed for your child. Although they will not be served in the gifted program, our staff will be happy to work with the regular education teacher to support individual student needs.

WHO ARE THE GIFTED?

Gifted students are persons of exceptional promise whose capabilities may predict contributions of lasting merit in widely varying fields. They come from all backgrounds with special abilities and talents ranging across a wide spectrum of human achievement. These students’ abilities and potential for accomplishment are so outstanding that they require special provisions to meet their educational needs.

While high academic performance may be one of the most important signs of giftedness, it is also important to be aware of other potential indicators of superior intelligence. Some of these indicators are 

  • advanced development of language

  • advanced comprehension

  • early development of sophisticated thought processes

  • unusual capacity to manipulate abstract ideas and to process information

  • superior ability to find, solve, and act on problems

  • advanced levels of moral judgment

  • unusual retentiveness and the capacity to learn at faster rates

  • idealism and strong sense of justice

How are Students Identified for the Gifted Program?

Schools are asked to refer students for district-wide screening for the gifted program. Most students are referred by a teacher, but parents and others may also refer.

Referred students are screened at the school by completing a standardized paper and pencil group intelligence test. Those students who score at a high level on the group test are scheduled for a more lengthy and in-depth evaluation by a school psychologist.

A school psychologist administers an individualized test of intelligence to determine a student’s intellectual ability. In Florida, a student must score two standard deviations above the mean or higher in order to meet the intellectual criterion for the gifted program.

In conjunction with the psychologist’s testing, a checklist of gifted student behavioral characteristics is completed by one or more teachers familiar with the student. All information is then reviewed by an eligibility staffing committee at the school to determine if the student has a need for the gifted program and meets eligibility criteria.

Parents may also choose to contract with a private psychologist for their child's evaluation. The private psychologist must be licensed. When a private psychologist is used, the child’s school psychologist will review copies of the evaluation. The staffing committee will then determine eligibility according to the same criteria mentioned above.

What are the Special Academic Needs of Learners Who are Gifted?

Research by Dr. Joyce Van Tassel-Baska (College of William and Mary) and other scholars confirms the widespread understanding that students who are gifted have special needs. Among these are the needs listed below.

  • To be challenged by learning situations or more cognitively complex levels of thought

  • To be challenged with divergent thought, such as the thought involved in problem solving and decision-making

  • To be challenged through cooperative and individual tasks which require sustained concentration on systematic inquiry and the integration of information and ideas

  • To be challenged by thoughtful and focused discussions among intellectual peers and adults

  • To be challenged in areas of strength and interest which accelerate the pace and the depth of content

  • To develop skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, coping with exceptionality and leadership, while applying knowledge and abilities to real problems

Do Gifted and Able Learners have Concern Beyond the Need for Academic Challenge?

Yes, gifted and highly able students must deal with unique social and emotional issues that other children may not experience. These issues include:

  • Cognitive and emotional development which may be uneven

  • Confusion about the meaning of giftedness

  • Feeling "different," alienated, isolated

  • Heightened sensitivity and intensity of feelings

  • Perfectionism and stress management

  • Heightened expectations from self and others

  • Feeling of inadequacy

  • Moral issues and universal concerns

  • Underachievement, drop-out, suicide

How Can I Motivate my Gifted and Talented Child?

Your attitude is essential to the development of a gifted child. Researchers Hall and Skinner tell parents to enjoy their gifted children and to remember that they are, first of all, children.

Motivate your gifted child by:

  • Encouraging trial and error

  • Being enthusiastic and optimistic

  • Recognizing Achievement

  • Encouraging goals set by the child

  • Encouraging novel ideas

  • Giving honest evaluation

  • Encouraging independence

  • Giving constructive criticism

  • Helping the child recognize strengths and weaknesses

  • Setting a good example in all of theses areas

Along with a positive attitude, there are many other ways to motivate a gifted child:

  • Furnish books that cover a wide range of subjects and reading levels

  • Set aside time for reading

  • Provide reference materials and laboratory equipment

  • Base enrichment activities on the child’s interests and hobbies

  • Arrange the child’s room to appeal to natural curiosity

  • Plan ways to apply what the child has learned

  • Make use of resource people in the community

  • Encourage participation in outside activities

How Can I Tell Whether my Child is Appropriately Challenged in the Educational Program?

If they are involved in an appropriate program, children will usually go to school eagerly. They will carry their interests into the home through discussion, through voluntary search for added information or through voiced enthusiasm. School work should be challenging, with homework based on key ideas or issues and not on isolated facts. The amount of assigned homework means nothing; a large assignment is no more valuable than a meaningful small one. The program should encourage your child to develop talents, skills and new interests. Questions concerning the gifted education program at any particular school should be directed to the school's gifted instructor and the administration.

What Can a School or the District Provide to Able Learners who DO NOT Qualify for Gifted Education Services?

Content differentiation in the regular classroom, such as compacted curriculum with individual projects or individual learning centers

  • Enrichment activities within the regular classroom

  • Participation in extra-curricular activities and programs to promote higher level thinking, e.g., chess clubs, Honor Society, Odyssey of the Mind, speech club, service clubs, Future Problem Solving, etc.

  • Flexible Grouping

  • Mentorships

  • Advanced Placement or Honors classes

  • Magnet Schools with special programs: International Baccalaureate, Career Academies

  • Dual-enrollment with community college