Education Seriously

By Allison Espinosa

Gifted education has traditionally been reserved for students who score a 130 or above IQ on a standardized intelligence examination. Utilizing only a standard IQ score to determine whether or not someone is gifted presents many problems. Some gifted students will not be identified because they are low income,  ESL, spatially gifted or are twice exceptional. A student who scores 129 on an IQ is not considered gifted and thus is denied services they may need in order to survive their academic career whereas the student who has a 130 IQ is admitted to the program. What is the school supposed to do with the child who just barely missed entrance into the gifted program? Some educational researchers believe IQ’s should not be the only measurement used to determine eligibility for admittance into a gifted program but one of many bases used for determination. The requirements of inclusion into gifted and talented program are not nationally set. Every school has the freedom to define the requirements of who is allowed within their GT program based on state gifted and talented programming guidelines. The school district is also given the freedom to determine how intelligence will be evaluated and how their GT program will operate.

            The definition of intelligence has been defined and redefined throughout the centuries. Scientist and educators tend to disagree whether intelligence is a single characteristic or a group of different abilities. Harvard professor, Howard Gardner, argued intelligence can be defined by 1) the ability to create a service or product that is valued by the culture in which the creator lives in, 2) a set of problem solving skills that aid someone in solving every day problems and 3) gathering new knowledge and creating finding or creating solutions for problems. Gardner identified nine different types of intelligences: logical – mathematical, linguistic, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist, and existential. He argues that everyone possesses different strengths and weaknesses in all these areas. Thus students who struggle in English/Language Arts (ELA) may be doing so because they are not being taught in their preferred intelligence. Researchers suggest classroom educators need to adjust their delivery method and assignment expectations in order to meet the students’ intellectual needs.

     Another way to view of intelligence is through the Theory of Successful Intelligence. Success Intelligence is the ability to utilize one’s strengths and correct one’s weaknesses in order to find success in one’s own culture by contributing to the society through a combination of creative, analytical and practical abilities. Like the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, the Theory of Successful Intelligences argues that there is more than one type of gifted student in the world. Yet unlike Multiple Intelligences, Successful Intelligence identifies only four types of gifted students; analytical, creative, practical, and balanced. Successful Intelligence explains why some gifted students achieve success on IQ tests while others fail, even though they show signs of giftedness outside a test environment.

An analytical gifted student is identified as someone who is able to analyze, criticize, judge, compare and contrast. These types of students oftentimes excel in standardized testing and academic settings. The creative gifted student excels at inventing, discovering, imagination, creating and supposing. These students do not do well on conventional tests and but excel in the rapid acquisition of creating new ideas. A practical gifted student is someone who excels at putting ideas into practice. These gifted students are successful in adapting to any environment and can decipher cultural norms that are not taught or verbalized. A balanced gifted person is identified as someone who does not show an extremity is any of the previous categories but is able to exhibit practical, analytical and creative attributes in a balanced way. These gifted individuals know precisely how to use all three attributes accurately when faced with any situation.

         Admittance into any gifted program is generally determined through the standardized IQ testing. Ninety percent of states in the United States use IQ scores as part of their definition of giftedness in students. Most educators believe only 3 – 5% of the world’s population are gifted and challenges educators to rethink those percentage rates because there may be more gifted people in the world than previous believed. Some gifted education researchers argue IQ scores may be depressing the reality of the size of the gifted population. IQ scores are inconsistent from test to test thus making it hard to glean an accurate picture of a person’s true intelligence. Researchers argue the new IQ tests work well for 90% of the population but are inadequately constructed for the highly gifted or the profoundly retarded student.  The identification of gifted students should be gleaned from a multiple of tests.