ness" or "creativity" or "talent,” workable criteria must be established to provide for the young people we know are there.

Generally, the following evidence would indicate special intellectual gifts or talent: -Consistently very superior scores on many appropriate standard

ized tests. - Judgment of teachers, pupil personnel specialists, administrators, and supervisors familiar with the abilities and potentials of the

individual. -Demonstration of advance skills, imaginative insight, and intense

interest and involvement. -Judgment of specialized teachers (including art and music), pupil

personnel specialists, and experts in the arts who are qualified to evaluate the pupils demonstrated and/or potential talent. While an operating definition is required, there are some pitfalls in describing giftedness too specifically, particularly in definitions written into law. The Special Study Project for Gifted Children in Illinois is a case in point. From the beginning of the program in 1959, planners sought to avoid placing a definition of the term "gifted children" in the legislation for two major reasons: First, specification and description of human abilties was, they thought, a problem for behavorial scientists rather than legislators. Definitions employed at the operational level in schools should be responsive to new scientific findings and response should not be delayed by legal restrictions. Second, the planners recognized that allocation of funds requires description of the special category; but they recommend that this description be made in administrative regulations and formulas for support rather than law. Thus, flexibility was retained while the need for expenditures control by the State education agency was met.

The legal definition employed in Illinois, then, is: Gifted children are those children whose mental development is accelerated beyond the average to the extent that they need and can profit from specially planned educational services.

The administrative regulation controlling expenditures for the gifted and talented is a formula which allows the district to use 2 percent of its enrollment in applying for reimbursement; for example, Reimbursement = 2% (enrollment) X $40. In seeking to meet a variety of special abilities, districts may involve as many as 5 percent of their pupils.


CHILDREN? One must project here from the studies of the gifted and at the same time consider the point that is recurrent throughout this study—that there is undiscovered genius and talent. So we are dealing with estimates. Numbers presumed to be gifted or talented have varied considerably in recent estimates. Up to the end of the 1950's, most research workers and other experts agreed that the gifted included those within the upper 2 to 3 percent of intellectual ability, defined as a Binet IQ. of 130 or more. More variance was introduced by those wishing to include social, mechanical, and other aptitudes, and by those who saw intelligence and talent as different dimensions.

5 10

The potential numbers involved by the use of selected percentages from the total population appear in table 1. The total census projection for the 1970 United States elementary-secondary school population was 51,600,000.1 Table 1-Numbers of pupils in various percentage groups to be gifted and


Number of

gifted and

talented pupils Percent of pupils : 1

516, 000 2

1, 032, 000 3

1, 548, 000 2, 580,000

5, 160, 000 15

7, 740,000 These numbers in table 1 would increase if the gifted at preschool levels were included. Obviously giftedness is not manifest at a set time; even though not recognized, it is present as a potential from birth. Attention to the preschool gifted population therefore merits serious consideration.

Table 2 indicates that 11,906,000 3-, 4-, and 5-vear-old children in October 1968, 3,929,000 were enrolled in preschool programs outside of the regular school.? If a conservative 3 percent of the total were estimated to be gifted, 117,870 young children would be accessible for special early childhood programs. Another 242,310 gifted preschoolers are not in any programs! However, the proportion of children in programs has increased from 1964 to 1968, suggesting that the gifted have become more accessible.


1964 TO OCTOBER 1968
[Numbers in thousands)

[blocks in formation]

1 Excludes 5 year olds enrolled in primary school: 1966—505,000; 1967–444,000; 1968—444,000.

In view of what we know about early childhood learning, to be able to reach and sustain over 100,000 gifted and talented children at the beginning of their formal schooling is significant. But this is only a fraction of the whole gifted population. Some people put the figure at 3 percent of the total school population while others would range as far as 15 percent to include those children with a special talent who may lack the full spectrum of “giftedness.” This may be too broad, but even taking the very conservative estimate of 3 percent, the size of the population-1.5 million-demands attention.

1 Projections of Educational Statistics to 1978–79. Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics (OE-10030-69).

2 Nehrt, Roy C. and Hiird, Gordon E. Preprimary Enrollment of Children Under Six, October 1968. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, June 1969 (OE 20078-68).


Gifted and talented youth are a unique population, differing markedly from their age peers in abilities, talents, interests, and psychological maturity. They are the most versatile and complex of all human groups, possibly the most neglected of all groups with special educational needs. Their sensitivity to others and insight into existing school conditions make them especially vulnerable, because of their ability to conceal their giftedness in standardized surroundings and to seek alternative outlets. The resultant waste is tragic.

Research studies on special needs of the gifted and talented demonstrate the need for special programs. Contrary to widespread belief, these students cannot ordinarily excel without assistance. The relatively few gifted students who have had the advantage of special programs have shown remarkable improvements in self-understanding and in ability to relate well to others, as well as in improved academic and creative performance. The programs have not produced arrogant, selfish snobs; special programs have extended a sense of reality, wholesome humility, self-respect, and respect for others. A good program for the gifted increases their involvement and interest in learning through the reduction of the irrelevant and redundant. These statements do not imply in any way a “track system” for the gifted and talented.

Identification of the gifted and talented in different parts of the country has been piecemeal, sporadic, and sometimes nonexistent. Very little identification has been carried on in depth, or with appropriate testing instruments. Many of the assumptions about giftedness and its incidence in various parts of the American society are based on inadequate data, partial information, and group tests of limited value. The United States has been inconsistent in seeking out the gifted and talented, finding them early in their lives, and individualizing their education. Particular injustice has occurred through apathy toward certain minorities, although neglect of the gifted in this country is a universal, increasing problem.

The next chapter discusses the typical obstacles and necessary steps in overcoming this neglect.


SPECIAL PLANNING NEEDED Although special programs for the gifted and talented have been conducted over the last half century, the provisions have reached only a few students. Programs have never been widespread, eren at periods of high interest. After a 9-year drought, efforts to provide for the gifted and talented reached a peak after the first Russian space launch. Then, during the 1960's, interest waned or was drowned out by other cries for help.

The following sections document a resurgence of concern in many quarters. Some of the queries about the need for special programs have been answered by research findings. A summary of the Adrocute Surrey discusses the riews of experts in the field. And, finally, the testimony at the regional hearings expresses a need felt throughout the country. The details and documentation of these sections are found in Volume II.

RESEARCH SAYS... Because many of these basie questions border on the philosophical, direct responses from research are difficult. But some clarification about oftexpressed doubts is possible.

AREN'T SPECIAL PROVISIONS CINDEMOCRATIC? If democratic educational practice is interpreted as the same education for all, the answer is yes. If we believe that democratie education means appropriate educational opportunities and the right to education in keeping with one's ability to benefit, the answer is no. If one takes the affirmative stand, then all special educational programs would disappear, and hundreds of millions now expended by the States and the Federal Government would be diverted to other uses. Other facets of the question than the philosophical, however, have been examined in research. Among these is the waste of talent, sometimes brought on by the extra control required to adjust to pressures in the society.

In a study of 251 students of high ability Miner reported that 54.6 percent were working below a level of which they were intellectually capable. The majority were working at least four grades below that at which they could be working. The author concluded that the overall picture was one of marked wastage of intellectual ability within the school system.

In a study of Michigan high school graduates Dressel and Grabow found that gifted high school students gained satisfaction in extraclass activities and high school involvement but remained apathetic toward classwork and courses.

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