What is Giftedness?
The quick response is that there is, as yet, no universally agreed upon answer to this question. Giftedness, intelligence, and talent are fluid concepts and may look different in different contexts and cultures. Gifted children may develop asynchronously: their minds are often ahead of their physical growth, and specific cognitive and social-emotional functions can develop unevenly. Some children with exceptional aptitude may not demonstrate outstanding levels of achievement due to environmental circumstances such as limited opportunities to learn as a result of poverty, discrimination, or cultural barriers, or due to physical or learning disabilities. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) does not subscribe to any one theory of the nature of human abilities or their origins. They assert there are children who demonstrate high performance, or who have the potential to do so, and that we have a responsibility to provide optimal educational experiences for talents to flourish in as many children as possible, for the benefit of the individual and the community.
There are many definitions of giftedness as put forth by educational researchers in the field. They may be categorized from a single measure of giftedness (IQ) to a broadened conception that includes multiple criteria. A definition of giftedness is the foundation upon which an educational program for gifted children is built. The specific abilities included in a definition determine the kinds of identification criteria that are used to select children for a program and the kinds of educational services that are provided to those children.
How does Fargo Public Schools (FPS) define giftedness?
The FPS Gifted Services department was designed in consultation with Karen Rogers, PhD and her research in the field of gifted education. To assist Fargo Public Schools in designing a service model, Dr. Rogers used a definition of giftedness articulated by researcher François Gagné. Gagné suggests that “gifts” or “giftedness” refers to the innate ability or capacity in some domain of ability, whether it is intellectual, perceptual, physical, creative, or social. It is something a child is born with. Every child is born with some ability or capacity—what we could call a strength—a gifted child is born with a comparatively greater degree of this ability or potential. Gagné then defines “talents” as extraordinary performance in a field of human endeavor. A simple way to think of this might be that gifts are described as potential and talents as performance.
How does FPS Gifted Services identify and serve gifted and talented students?
The name of the Fargo Public School department that identifies and serves gifted and talented students is called “Gifted Services.” The department was purposefully so named to de-emphasize that we do not function as an isolated program that a student is either in or out of, but rather to emphasize that we offer multiple approaches and strategies to meeting the needs of students with high ability. These research-based approaches indicate successful application to an individual student would increase that student’s growth and performance in school. These services have the greatest impact on student achievement and academic growth when they are applied in a shared capacity between the Gifted Services teacher, the classroom teacher, the student and the parent.
FPS Gifted Services offers a menu of formalized services to grades 1-5, and also extends a portion of the full menu of services to kindergarten (early entrance) and middle school (cluster grouping and math acceleration). Approximately 8 – 10 percent of a building’s student population receives one or more gifted services.
For more program information, check out the FPS Gifted Services website, which includes our mission and vision, services listing, and referral process.