Gifted Education

Rationale for Gifted Education
In accordance with the Francis Howell School District Vision Statement, all students have the right to an education that is commensurate with their abilities. Reis, Burns and Renzulli, leaders in the field of gifted education, state that the majority of gifted learners may spend as much as 50% of their time working with curriculum that they have already mastered. This may cause gifted students to spend half of their academic career working well below their abilities.
Gifted children have specific behavioral characteristics in the cognitive and affective realms that present special learning needs that must be addressed by curriculum differentiation (Van Tassel-Baska, 1998). Gifted education provides a means of addressing these particular characteristics and promoting the continual growth of students in an environment that is respectful of individual differences. The gifted program does not substitute or replace the classroom instruction already provided by the Francis Howell School District.

Federal Definition
The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act defines gifted and talented students as "students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities." [Title IX, Part A, Definition 22. (2002)]

State of Missouri: Definition of Gifted
Gifted students are defined in Section 162.675, RSMo as those students who exhibit precocious development of mental capacity and learning potential as determined by competent professional evaluation to the extent that continued educational growth and stimulation could best be served by an academic environment beyond that offered through a standard grade-level curriculum.

The mission of the FHSD Spectra Program is to provide challenge, enrichment and/or acceleration to meet the unique needs of gifted students.

The vision of the FHSD Spectra Program is to effectively meet the academic and affective needs of gifted students through a respected, progressive program.

The goal of the FHSD Spectra Program is to advocate for gifted education, to challenge our students and to be responsive to individual student needs.

Core Beliefs

Gifted Children:
• Gifted children have an intense desire to explore and question their universe.
• Gifted children are at risk of not achieving their full potential due to their extreme diversity in social-emotional, physical, and academic maturity.

Goal of Gifted Education:
• The overall goal of the gifted education program is to provide a differentiated curriculum for the identified gifted students in the areas of thinking, performance, and research skills as well as affective awareness necessary to meet their needs.
• Gifted education provides interventions to accommodate the child’s passion for learning and their need for creative expression

• Gifted children are diverse compared to their chronological peers due to their elevated intellectual and creative abilities and therefore, are in need of support and validation from those who nurture their giftedness.

• The partnership of home, school, and community is crucial to the success of gifted children.

• Gifted education supports and values the important role of the family in helping their child reaching his/her full potential.

• Gifted children need an environment in which they can interact with their intellectual peers.

What Do the Gifted Need?
Adapted from: Feldhusen: Excellence in Educating the Gifted (1998)

Best understood as opportunities to study additional topics not covered in the regular educational program.

Opportunities to study new material that is typically taught at a higher grade level than the one in which the child is currently enrolled.

Presentation of new learning tasks at the next higher level of difficulty

In the context of gifted education, this approach is focused on building up a student’s weak area while allowing them to continue at an advanced pace in the area of strength.

Identification of Special Talents
Emphasis on identification of special talents and to do all that is possible to fostering those special talents to the greatest degree possible.

Social/Emotional Needs
A focus on the social-emotional needs of gifted students because their giftedness may cause personal and/or academic problems.

Students need to become familiar with the skills of historical, descriptive, and experimental research as tools for future learning and thinking.