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Identifying Underachieving Gifted Students

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Jessica O'Connell

on 9 May 2014

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Transcript of Identifying Underachieving Gifted Students

What does it mean to be "gifted and talented"?
There are many definitions.....
How to Reverse Underachievement
help students learn to set realistic goals for themselves
pair the student with an achieving mentor
tutoring to fill any gaps in education that occurred because the child was underachieving
use rewards that are motivating to the child, give rewards immediately following successful completion of challenging activity
identify areas of interest for the student & help them to design independent research activities
pre-assess the student to determine areas of mastery & compact the curriculum for areas that require instruction
develop opportunities for gifted students to work together and collaborate
provide opportunities for students to interact
Why is it important to identify these students?
Underachieving gifted students have a discrepancy between their ability and achievement levels. Teachers seldom rate these children as gifted because their behaviors often mask their talent.
What are "underachieving gifted students"?
"18%-25% of the students who do not graduate [from high school] are in the gifted range of abilities..."

-Davis p 287
How to Identify Underachieving Gifted Students
Identifying Gifted Students
Some gifted students are easy to identify because they are "teacher pleasers".
The Importance of Identifying Underachieving Gifted Students
Thank you!
By: Jessica O'Connell
ED 578
Spring 2014

The Federal Government Defines "Gifted And Talented" Children As Those

...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 or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.

No Child Left Behind Act, P.L. 107-110 (Title IX, Part A, Definitions (22) (2002); 20 U.S.C. Sec. 7802 (22) (2004))
Connecticut State Department of Education. (2014) Gifted and Talented Law. accessed on April 25, 2014:

Davis, G, Rimm, S, Siegle, D. (2011) Education of the Gifted and Talented (sixth edition). Pearson. Boston. 1-394.

National Association for Gifted Children. (2008) Federal Definition of Gifted and Talented. accessed on April 25, 2014:

Pagnini, A (2014) Gifted Underachievement: Root Causes and Reversal Strategies. accessed on April 25, 2014:

Schneider, S (2003) Overcoming Underachievement. accessed on April 25, 2014:

University of Connecticut: Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (2014) Three-Ring Conception of Giftedness. accessed on April 25, 2014:
The State of Connecticut defines "gifted and talented" as

...a child identified by the planning and placement team as (1) possessing demonstrated or potential abilities that give evidence of very superior intellectual, creative or specific academic capability and (2) needing differentiated instruction or services beyond those being provided in the regular school program in order to realize their intellectual, creative or specific academic potential. The term shall include children with extraordinary learning ability and children with outstanding talent in the creative arts as defined by these regulations.

-Connecticut State Department of Education

Connecticut defines "extraordinary learning ability" and "outstanding talent" as the top 5% in the district, as measured by standardized tests, intellectual creativity, demonstrated or potential achievement in the arts
Joseph Renzulli, director of The National Research Center on Gifted and Talented (University of Connecticut) has developed the following conception of what it means to be gifted:

[Giftedness]...consist[s] of above average, though not necessarily superior, ability, task commitment, and creativity....it is the interaction among the three clusters that research has shown to be the necessary ingredient for creative-productive accomplishment (Renzulli, 1978)....It is also important to point out that each cluster plays an important role in contributing to the display of gifted behaviors....one of the major errors that continues to be made in identification procedures is to overemphasize superior abilities at the expense of the other two clusters of traits.

Students who exhibit these qualities have a higher chance of being perceived as "gifted" by their teachers than those who don't. They are typically:
middle class students
cooperative, respectful
take pride in work
What causes these students to be underachievers?
There may be several causes to underachievement including:
mental, physical, or emotional problems
mismatch between student's learning style and school environment
low motivation, self-regulation, or self-efficacy
"...IQ scores...are frequently lowered by underachievement...after many years of underachieving, some students' giftedness may not be identifiable."

-Davis p 288
Undiagnosed gifted students who are underachieving may...
earn high scores with little to no effort
act out
have difficulty in competative situations
have a fixed mindset & believe there is nothing they can do to change the way things are
have skill deficiencies as a result of underachieving over a period of time
be defensive
be undisciplined
have low self-esteem
be perfectionists
Tests to Measure Underachieving Gifted
Achievement Identification Measure (parent report inventory)
Group Achievement Identification Measure (self-report inventory)
Achievement Identification Measure - Teacher Observation
administer an Individual (rather than Group) Achievement & Intelligence Tests (since the child is likely unmotivated, norms from group tests are not as reliable
administer a Creativity Test or Inventory
Students with 10 or more of these criteria should be evaluated to determine whether they are an underachieving gifted student:
have low self-esteem
be poor test takers
be achieving at or below grade-level expectations in basic skill areas
not finish work / poor performance on work
demonstrate superior understanding / memory in areas of interest
have a gap between oral and written performance
have extensive factual knowledge
be creative
be unsatisfied with the work they produce
be a perfectionist
show initiative in self-selected projects
have a wide range of interests
does not work well with others
set unrealistic goals (too high or too low)
be extra-sensitive
dislike practicing
have difficulty concentrating
be indifferent / negative about school
be resistant to adults who try to motivate or discipline
have difficulty in peer relationships
What to Include in a Learning Contract
be specific about what the child must do including page numbers to be read and / or product student will produce
list acceptable "extension options"
state "Working Conditions" such as:
stay on task
don't interrupt teacher
use soft voices
don't brag about working on different activities
don't bother others
don't call attention to yourself
consequences of not adhering to the contract will be loss of privilege of independent activity & return to whole-class instruction for the remainder of the unit
Please respond to the following questions in the Google Doc prior to our April 30 PLC:
Since there is no agreed upon definition of "gifted and talented" what do these terms mean to you?
What have you learned about gifted and talented education?
What will you take away from this PD? How will it affect the way you interact with your students?
Tools for Teachers
These provide an more detail about the information provided in this Prezi, as well as practical resources for teachers:
This video also provides some good ideas:
Full transcript