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When Full Inclusion Fails Gifted Students

Full inclusion was first used in regards to special education; a situation in which parents pushed for and sought legal solutions to compel schools to not place their children in separate classrooms. Full inclusion for gifted education means that GT students are kept in the regular classroom and the classroom teacher is responsible for differentiating instruction to meet the needs of students.

Most reasons for insisting on full inclusion of GT students are based on myths which claim  these students will be fine on their own. School personnel often cite personal biased reasoning for why students should be kept in the regular classroom; that these students already possess intellectual advantage and no further accommodation should be needed.

What are some of negative impacts of full inclusion for GT students? It doesn’t take long to see the negative impact of mixed ability classrooms on GT students. Teasing and outright bullying can lead to being socially ostracized by age-peers. In classrooms where teachers are expected to meet the needs of wide-ranging abilities, GT students are generally a low priority. When these students are not challenged, they are unprepared to face challenges when they do come.

Curriculum differentiation has the potential to work for high ability students, but few educators receive adequate training to provide quality differentiation that meets these students’ needs. The academic needs of high ability students go well beyond curriculum. GT students learn best when educated with intellectual peers and by teachers trained to work with them.

What are some alternatives to full inclusion that work? Some of the best alternatives are multi-age, standalone programs where GT students are challenged by ability. Many forms of acceleration are excellent alternatives for GT students and cost-effective for schools with tight budgets. Some options include early entrance, dual-enrollment, subject and whole grade acceleration.

What approach can parents take to seek real solutions when inclusion isn’t working? Parents must engage in well-informed advocacy; know school district policy and finances, learn about possible alternatives, attend school board meetings, and know who the decision makers are at the state level. Most parents soon learn that there is power in numbers when trying to influence school policy decisions, availability of programs for GT learners, and potential extra-curricular activities. Parent advocacy groups are essential. A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 1PM NZST/11 AM AEST/Midnight UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

 Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Highly Gifted Children in Full Inclusion Classrooms

Gifted Programs: Is Inclusion the Answer?

Educating Gifted Students in Regular Classroom: Efficacy, Attitudes and Differentiation of Instruction (pdf)

The Gifted Child and the Inclusive Classroom (pdf)

Teaching Gifted Students in Full-Inclusion Classrooms

The Purpose of a Self-Contained Classroom

Threat or Challenge? Teacher Beliefs about Gifted Students and their Relationship to Teacher Motivation

Teacher Perspective on Differentiation for Gifted Students in the General Education Classroom (pdf)

Teacher Attitudes towards Gifted Education in Rural School Districts (pdf)

Competing with Myths about the Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Students

The Development of the Educators’ Attitudes toward Gifted Education Scale (pdf)

Factors That Promote/Inhibit Teaching Gifted Students in a Regular Class: Results from a Professional Development Program for Chemistry Teachers

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Edition via @ASCD

Developing Exemplary Gifted Programs: Programs: What does the research say? What does the research say? (pdf)

Future Trends in Gifted Education (TEMPO – pdf)

How and Why Teachers Need to Support Gifted Students

Ability and Performance Comparisons of Gifted Students in Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Settings (pdf)

Practitioners’ Conceptions of Academic Talent and Giftedness: Essential Factors in Deciding Classroom and School Composition (pdf)

Celebrating Mediocrity? How Schools Shortchange Gifted Students

Inequitable Access to Gifted Education

Navigating the Education System: Empowering Parents for Effective Advocacy (pdf)

The Case for Gifted Education as an Equity Issue

Cybraryman’s Inclusion Page

Black-White Gap Widens Faster for High Achievers

Image courtesy of Pixabay   Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Should Achievement Be the Sole Determinant for Inclusion in a Gifted Program?

Achievement copy

Image courtesy of Flickr  CC 2.0 License


Inclusion of a particular student in a gifted program is often predicated on how the term ‘gifted’ is perceived by those determining entrance requirements. When schools have a talent development mind-set, gifted programs seem to promote achievement as the primary goal. High-achievers are sought after while twice-exceptional and under-performing students are usually overlooked. Lack of a federal policy on gifted education has led to a widely disjointed approach to how local school districts determine who participates in a school’s gifted program.

Is there a difference between gifted and high-achieving? Bertie Kingore in her consummate piece, “High Achiever, Gifted Learner, Creative Thinker” explains it this way:

“Identification of gifted students is clouded when concerned adults misinterpret high achievement as giftedness. High-achieving students are noticed for their on-time, neat, well-developed, and correct learning products. Adults comment on these students’ consistent high grades and note how well they acclimate to class procedures and discussions. Some adults assume these students are gifted because their school-appropriate behaviors and products surface above the typical responses of grade-level students.

Educators with expertise in gifted education are frustrated trying to help other educators and parents understand that while high achievers are valuable participants whose high-level modeling is welcomed in classes, they learn differently from gifted learners. In situations in which they are respected and encouraged, gifted students’ thinking is more complex with abstract inferences and more diverse perceptions than is typical of high achievers. Articulating those differences to educators and parents can be difficult.”

It was agreed by most that many gifted students are high-achievers, but that alone should not be the sole determining factor; who receives gifted services should be based on a much more comprehensive procedure.

When asked if gifted programs should cater only to high performers, the answer was a resounding, “No!” Many pointed out that gifted children who do not perform according to ‘standards’ may well be the ones who need help the most. As Cait, school psychologist and blogger at My Little Poppies, pointed out, “You’d leave so many behind. The outliers, the creatives, the square pegs- those who think differently.” Gifted programs which address social and emotional needs may be the last glimmer of hope for some students.

Should students who are not performing up to expectations be left-behind in favor of students who ‘want’ to learn? This was obviously an emotionally charged question. Students with high ability who are stuck in unchallenging academic environments may tune out and not even try to achieve. Molli Osburn, the Creative Math Coach,  observed, “Lack of challenge leads to lack of engagement, which leads to lack of achievement.” Curriculum design and programs need to be tailored to motivate and inspire gifted children. Susanne Thomas, Director of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Online, noted that “We lose the slow, deep, rich thinkers. We lose so much. Gifted education shouldn’t be a reward, but a program that is MEETING NEEDS.”

Finally, the discussion turned to what criteria should be used in gifted screenings. Jade Rivera, educator and coach suggested, “Recommendations from knowledgeable adults that have experience with gifted theory and the child.” Culture, socio-economic levels, portfolios, qualitative assessments, observation, and parental insights were all mentioned as important aspects in identification. For a more in-depth look at this topic see the full transcript at Storify.

gtchat thumbnail logoGlobal #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:



Gifted Under Achievers from Jo Freitag

Underachievement of Verbally Gifted Children

Potential Doesn’t Equal Performance

Comparison of High Achievers’ & Low Achievers’ Attitudes, Perceptions & Motivations (pdf)

Promoting a Positive Achievement Attitude with Gifted & Talented Students

Achievement Versus Ability Why One Isn’t a Sign of the Other

Is It a Cheetah? by Stephanie Tolan

What is the Right Score for Admittance to a Gifted Program?

Gifted Underachievers: Underachieving or Refusing to Play the Game?

London G&T: Teacher Tools for Identifying Gifted & Talented Students

When Kids Qualify for Gifted Programs, but Don’t Sign Up

Latent Ability Grades and Test Scores Systematically Underestimate Intellectual Ability of Negatively Stereotyped Students

Maryland State Department of Education Criteria For Excellence: Gifted and Talented Education Program Guidelines (pdf)

Georgia Department of Education: Education Programs for Gifted Students Evaluation and Eligibility Chart (pdf)

Texas Education Agency Gifted Talented Education

The Problem With Being Gifted

To Show Or Not To Show (Work) from Byrdseed Gifted

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