How are the gifted defined?

How are the gifted defined?

            There are many different ways to define the gifted. The following are various ways educator’s define giftedness, according to Coleman &Cross (2005), p. 7:

Ex Post Facto:

            Person is acknowledged as gifted after they have made a great contribution to society.

Measurable IQ

            This idea is that one must have high ability in reasoning and judgment in order to be truly gifted. Thus, multiple tests were created in an attempt to measure those reasoning and judgment skills. This is still a widely accepted view of giftedness even today.


            The definition focuses on general and specific academic achievement.


            This definition of giftedness states that true giftedness is defined by the ability to do something new in one’s environment. The idea is that creativity sets a truly gifted person apart from people who are “only very intelligent or high achievers” (p.7)

Social Talent

            This is a definition of giftedness involves viewing giftedness as high performance in an activity that is highly valued by society.

Interaction of Attributes

            This is a view that gifted is an interaction of a variety of attributes.


            This is the idea that a certain percentage of any group should be viewed as gifted or talented.


            A high level of development in a valued area indicates giftedness.


            This is the demonstration of achievement, potential ability, or both in one or more specified areas.


            Obviously, there are many definitions of giftedness and the majority of them are rather vague. However, this is necessary, due to the fact that gifted people themselves vary widely in their abilities and talents. The general debate amongst educators is to try and define giftedness the best they can so that population can be served in the best way possible. Most states and schools prefer the omnibus definition and use this definition as a way to evaluate students for giftedness. Also, a combination of most of these definitions is probably the best way to define giftedness. As you were reading these definitions, you probably felt that your child fell into more than one category. This is to be expected: giftedness is so complex that it would not make sense for it to be easily defined.

            If you feel that your child is gifted according to these definitions, but has not been tested by your school, you should feel free to express your desire for your child to be tested. In the next section, we discuss how schools identify the gifted.