Gifted education standards to guide teaching and deepen student learning

Ensuring that highly able learners are recognized through systematic programming is of the highest importance. All teachers must be able to recognize a high-ability student who needs more depth and complexity in instruction or a referral for further assessment and services. Teachers in specialized programs for gifted learners, or those who coordinate gifted and talented programs, should be familiar with the theory, research, curriculum strategies, and educational practices necessary to sustain high-quality, classroom-based opportunities for advanced student learning.  

To help improve teaching for the nation’s estimated 3–5 million gifted and talented students, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) has created national standards in gifted education programming and services, as well as teacher preparation.

Pre-K–12 Gifted Education Programming Standards

National programming standards assist school districts in examining the quality of their programs and services for gifted learners. Recognizing that the ongoing evaluation and re-tooling of a successful gifted program is an evolutionary process, “NAGC Pre-K–Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards: A Blueprint for Quality Gifted Education Programs” detail a framework that focuses on student outcomes rather than teacher practices. Districts use the program standards both as mileposts for improving programs and as rubrics for evaluation.  

The standards have been endorsed by the Association for the Gifted of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC-TAG) and were developed with input from a variety of stakeholders. They increase the focus on diversity and collaboration—two powerful principles that guide excellent services. Because these standards are grounded in theory, research, and practice paradigms, they provide an important base for efforts on behalf of gifted learners at all stages of development.

Knowledge and Skill Standards in Gifted and Talented Education for All Teachers 

It is critical that all teachers recognize the needs of their high-ability students. But few general teacher preparation programs provide instruction on the needs of gifted and talented kids, and the majority of American teachers today have consequently not been trained to address them.

NAGC developed standards for use in general educator preparation programs, as well as for the training of existing teachers. These knowledge and skill standards foster an awareness of the issues endemic to gifted education, as well as the strategies that all teachers should possess. The standards were drawn from the larger set of 2013 NAGC-CEC Gifted Education Teacher Preparation Standards.

All teachers should be able to:

  1. recognize the learning differences, developmental milestones, and cognitive/affective characteristics of gifted and talented students, including those from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and identify their related academic and social-emotional needs;
  2. design appropriate learning and performance modifications for individuals with gifts and talents that enhance creativity, acceleration, depth, and complexity in academic subject matter and specialized domains; and
  3.  select, adapt, and use a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to advance the learning of gifted and talented students.

Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education

In collaboration with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and other leaders in the field, NAGC developed national standards for teacher preparation programs in gifted and talented education.

The NAGC-CEC Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education provide a foundation for the knowledge and skills necessary in gifted education. They are also used as part of the national accreditation process through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Advanced Standards in Gifted Education Teacher Training

Many gifted and talented specialists continue their growth by mastering professional standards to help prepare them for leadership roles. For some, this means deepening their expertise and adding new responsibilities for leadership within the classroom. Others assume functions outside the classroom: moving into specializations, administering gifted education programs, or moving into teacher preparation and research roles.

Regardless of the specific role, educators in advanced roles share an array of functions and responsibilities in common. The Advanced Standards lay out the knowledge and skills that teachers in gifted education should acquire as part of their preparation for advanced professional practice.

George Betts is the president of the board of directors for the National Association for Gifted Children.

Editor's note: This is part of a series of blog posts that is collaboratively published every week by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and National Association for Gifted Children. Each post in the series exists both here on the NAGC Blog and on Fordham's Flypaper.