Teaching Gifted Education
Deciding on a career in gifted education allows you to reach and teach a demographic of students who enjoy creative and academic challenges. Gifted education teachers are not limited to the traditional classroom, and they are able to work within a number of learning environments.
A number of schools across the country offer coursework, certification and degree programs in gifted education. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) compiled a nationwide database of all colleges and universities that offer coursework, certification and degree programs in K–12 gifted education.
To become a certified gifted education teacher, most programs require students with prior teaching certification. However, some programs, such as USC Rossier Online, allow students to obtain their Master of Arts in Teaching with a Gifted Education Certificate. This program does not require prior teaching credentials or experience.
Curriculum and Teaching Standards
Whether you are a general education teacher or a teacher for the gifted, it is the responsibility of classroom teachers to both identify and serve gifted and talented students. NAGC notes that it is of the highest priority that teachers recognize “high ability” students and provide them with in-depth/complex instruction or refer them for assessment and related services. It is important for all educators connected to gifted education to familiarize themselves with the research, curriculum strategies, pedagogy theories and educational practices in place to enhance learning in high ability students. The NAGC provides standards in teacher preparation, gifted education program/services and knowledge for all teachers to ensure high quality teaching and learning within all GATE programs.
Gifted Education (Pre-K–12) Program Standards
Standard 1: Learning and Development
Educators, recognizing the learning and developmental differences of students with gifts and talents, promote ongoing self-understanding, awareness of their needs, and cognitive and affective growth of these students in school, home and community settings to ensure specific student outcomes.
Standard 2: Assessment
Assessments provide information about identification, learning progress and outcomes, and evaluation of programming for students with gifts and talents in all domains.
Standard 3: Curriculum Planning and Instruction
Educators apply the theory and research-based models of curriculum and instruction related to students with gifts and talents and respond to their needs by planning, selecting, adapting and creating culturally relevant curricula and by using a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to ensure specific student outcomes.
Standard 4: Learning Environments
Learning environments foster personal and social responsibility, multicultural competence, and interpersonal and technical communication skills for leadership in the 21st century to ensure specific student outcomes.
Standard 5: Programming
Educators are aware of empirical evidence regarding (a) the cognitive, creative and affective development of learners with gifts and talents and (b) programming that meets their concomitant needs. Educators use this expertise systematically and collaboratively to develop, implement and effectively manage comprehensive services for students with a variety of gifts and talents to ensure specific student outcomes.
Standard 6: Professional Development
All educators (administrators, teachers, counselors and other instructional support staff) build their knowledge and skills using the NAGC-CEC Teacher Standards for Gifted and Talented Education and the National Staff Development Standards. They formally assess professional development needs related to the standards, develop and monitor plans, systematically engage in training to meet the identified needs and demonstrate mastery of standard. They access resources to provide for release time, funding for continuing education and substitute support. These practices are judged through the assessment of relevant student outcomes.
Visit NAGC for more information on the K–12 Programming Standards.
Teacher Preparation Standards
The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) developed the following 10 research-based standards for teacher preparation in gifted education.
Standard 1: Foundations
Educators of the gifted understand the field as an evolving and changing discipline based on philosophies, evidence-based principles and theories, relevant laws and policies, diverse and historical points of view and human issues. These perspectives continue to influence the field of gifted education and the education and treatment of individuals with gifts and talents both in school and society. They recognize how foundational influences affect professional practice, including assessment, instructional planning, delivery and program evaluation. They further understand how issues of human diversity affect families, cultures and schools and how these complex human issues can interact in the delivery of gifted and talented education services.
Standard 2: Development and Characteristics of Learners
Educators of the gifted know and demonstrate respect for their students as unique human beings. They understand variations in characteristics and development between and among individuals with and without exceptional learning needs and capacities. Educators of the gifted can express how different characteristics interact with the domains of human development and use this knowledge to describe the varying abilities and behaviors of individuals with gifts and talents. Educators of the gifted also understand how families and communities contribute to the development of individuals with gifts and talents.
Standard 3: Individual Learning Differences
Educators of the gifted understand the effects that gifts and talents can have on an individual’s learning in school and throughout life. Moreover, educators of the gifted are active and resourceful in seeking to understand how language, culture and family background interact with an individual’s predispositions to affect academic and social behavior, attitudes, values and interests. The understanding of these learning differences and their interactions provides the foundation upon which educators of the gifted plan instruction to provide meaningful and challenging learning.
Standard 4: Instructional Strategies
Educators of the gifted possess a repertoire of evidence-based curriculum and instructional strategies to differentiate for individuals with gifts and talents. They select, adapt and use these strategies to promote challenging learning opportunities in general and special curricula and to modify learning environments to enhance self-awareness and self-efficacy for individuals with gifts and talents. They enhance the learning of critical and creative thinking, problem solving and performance skills in specific domains. Moreover, educators of the gifted emphasize the development, practice and transfer of advanced knowledge and skills across environments throughout the lifespan leading to creative, productive careers in society for individuals with gifts and talents.
Standard 5: Learning Environments and Social Interaction
Educators of the gifted actively create learning environments for individuals with gifts and talents that foster cultural understanding, safety and emotional well-being, positive social interactions and active engagement. In addition, educators of the gifted foster environments in which diversity is valued and individuals are taught to live harmoniously and productively in a culturally diverse world. Educators of the gifted shape environments to encourage independence, motivation and self-advocacy of individuals with gifts and talents.
Standard 6: Language and Communication
Educators of the gifted understand the role of language and communication in talent development and the ways in which exceptional conditions can hinder or facilitate such development. They use relevant strategies to teach oral and written communication skills to individuals with gifts and talents. Educators of the gifted are familiar with assistive technologies to support and enhance communication of individuals with exceptional needs. They match their communication methods to an individual’s language proficiency and cultural and linguistic differences. Educators of the gifted use communication strategies and resources to facilitate understanding of subject matter for individuals with gifts and talents who are English language learners.
Standard 7: Instructional Planning
Curriculum and instructional planning are at the center of gifted and talented education. Educators of the gifted develop long-range plans anchored in both general and special curricula. They systematically translate shorter-range goals and objectives that take into consideration an individual’s abilities and needs, the learning environment, and cultural and linguistic factors. An understanding of these factors, as well as the implications of being gifted and talented, guides the educator’s selection, adaptation and creation of materials and his or her use of differentiated instructional strategies. Learning plans are modified based on ongoing assessment of the individual’s progress. Moreover, educators of the gifted facilitate these actions in a collaborative context that includes individuals with gifts and talents, families, professional colleagues and personnel from other agencies as appropriate. Educators of the gifted are comfortable using technologies to support instructional planning and individualized instruction.
Standard 8: Assessment
Assessment is integral to the decision-making and teaching of educators of the gifted as multiple types of assessment information are required for both identification and learning progress decisions. Educators of the gifted use the results of such assessments to adjust instruction and to enhance ongoing learning progress. Educators of the gifted understand the process of identification, legal policies and ethical principles of measurement and assessment related to referral, eligibility, program planning, instruction and placement for individuals with gifts and talents, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. They understand measurement theory and practices for addressing the interpretation of assessment results. In addition, educators of the gifted understand the appropriate use and limitations of various types of assessments. To ensure the use of nonbiased and equitable identification and learning progress models, educators of the gifted employ alternative assessments such as performance-based assessment, portfolios and computer simulations.
Standard 9: Professional and Ethical Practice
Educators of the gifted are guided by the profession’s ethical and professional practice standards. They practice in multiple roles and complex situations across wide age and developmental ranges. Their practice requires ongoing attention to professional and ethical considerations. They engage in professional activities that promote growth in individuals with gifts and talents and update themselves on evidence-based best practices. Educators of the gifted view themselves as lifelong learners and regularly reflect on and adjust their practice. They are aware of how attitudes, behaviors and ways of communicating can influence their practice. Educators of the gifted understand that culture and language interact with gifts and talents and are sensitive to the many aspects of the diversity of individuals with gifts and talents and their families.
Standard 10: Collaboration
Educators of the gifted effectively collaborate with families, other educators and related service providers. This collaboration enhances comprehensive articulated program options across educational levels and engagement of individuals with gifts and talents in meaningful learning activities and interactions. Moreover, educators of the gifted embrace their special role as advocates for individuals with gifts and talents. They promote and advocate for the learning and well-being of individuals with gifts and talents across settings and diverse learning experiences.
Visit NAGC for more information on Teacher Preparation Standards for Gifted & Talented Education.
Gifted and Talented Education Standards for All Teachers
- All teachers should understand the issues in definitions, theories and identification of gifted and talented students, including those from diverse backgrounds.
- All teachers should recognize the learning differences, developmental milestones and cognitive/affective characteristics of gifted and talented students, including those from diverse backgrounds, and identify their related academic and social-emotional needs.
- All teachers should understand, plan and implement a range of evidence-based strategies to assess gifted and talented students, to differentiate instruction, content and assignments for them (including use of higher-order critical and creative-thinking skills), and to nominate them for advanced programs or acceleration as needed.