Gifted education specializes in teaching students who are particularly gifted and talented in one specific area or who exhibit above average attainment across a range of subjects.

Teaching gifted education topics

  • Teaching gifted students resources
  • Tips for teaching gifted students
  • Student lesson plans
  • Gifted students in the classroom accommodations
  • How to support gifted and talented students in the classroom
  • Gifted teacher job description
  • Helping gifted students
  • Gifted special education

Teaching gifted education

Gifted education is the practice of teaching children who have been identified as particularly talented or gifted. Sometimes known as Gifted and Talented Education or Talented and Gifted, every school should endeavor to support children who excel in certain areas or who habitually achieve results which are over and above the standard expected for their age.

The right way of teaching gifted education

Specializing in gifted education allows teachers to work with students who enjoy challenges and who respond to innovative teaching methods. In most instances, individuals who undertake gifted education certification programs are those who have already qualified as teachers and who wish to focus on this particular area of teaching. Of course, obtaining a gifted education certification does not prevent teachers from working in a standard classroom setting, it simply enables them to increase their qualifications and deliver effective teaching to a wider demographic of students.

Although most individuals who commit to obtaining additional gifted education qualifications are already working as teachers, there are some degree programs which do not require any previous teaching qualifications or classroom experience. If you’re training to become a teacher and already have an interest in working with gifted students, for example, this certification may be incorporated into your qualifying studies.

How to identify gifted students

The term gifted students can have various definitions, but the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) identifies gifted children as students who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude… or competencein one or more domains.

When assessing whether a student has outstanding aptitude, the NAGC defines this term as having an exceptional ability to reason and learn, while outstanding competence is achieved if there is documented performance within at least the top 10% of their peers.

To assist teachers in determining whether a student should be identified as gifted, the NAGC has set out six areas into which their talents may fall:
  • Specific academic aptitude: Outstanding academic performance in one specific area, such as science or geography.
  • Leadership ability: Students tend to adapt well to new situations, can direct both individuals and groups and use their confidence to negotiate and/or problem solve.
  • Psycho-motor ability: Advanced spatial, mechanical and practical schools, students tend to learn through ‘doing’ something (i.e. kinesthetic learners)
  • Visual and performing arts: Particularly talented in one or more of the following: music, drama, art, dance, performance and/or similar subjects.
  • Creative and productive thinking: Students are able to use seemingly distinct, independent or abstract elements to form new ideas. Students are often keen to experience new situations, may dominate easily and often exhibit a high level of self-confidence.
  • General intellectual ability: Students typically have high levels of memory, abstract reasoning and vocabulary, routinely achieve high IQ scores when tested and possess a wide-range of general knowledge.

If a child demonstrates above-average competence and/or aptitude in one or more of these areas, it’s highly likely that they meet the ‘gifted and talented’ criteria and should be taught in accordance with the Gifted and Talented Education programs offered at their school.

Equal rights and beyond

All children have the right to an education and their individual needs should be recognized and met wherever possible. In reality, however, gifted and talented students do not benefit from centrally-mandated programs, curriculum or funding.

Whilst the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act is a federal program, its main focus is on advocacy and research for gifted children in underserved communities. Although the program receives some funding each year, this remains at risk and could be removed or reduced at any time.

Currently, the rights of gifted and talented students are not recognized by law or enshrined by statute and there are limited options available for teachers who wish to develop programs aimed at helping gifted students to achieve their potential.

As the responsibility to develop new gifted education policies falls to local, state and federal levels, it is often individual teachers and schools who attempt to fund and implement such initiatives. In fact, teachers often try to supplement the cost of such programs themselves due to funding constraints and the limited financial support available from central sources.

2e students: twice-exceptional

Twice-exceptional students are those who possess above-average intelligence and also have one or more recognized disabilities. Sometimes known as ‘2e’ students, these children may perform extremely well in some areas but obtain relatively poor results in some standardized tests.

2e students may often exhibit the following traits or abilities:
  • Outstanding ability or talent
  • Difficulties processing information, particularly data which is absorbed via the senses
  • Discrepancies between the expected performance of the student and their achievement

Although 2e students may be overlooked due to average or below-average results in some tests, their ability and giftedness should not be ignored. In fact, 2e students can benefit from Gifted and Talented Education programs in the same way as any other children and should be allocated to such teaching groups when their ability and/or competence is assessed in relation to their disability or disabilities.

Standards and curriculum for gifted education teachers

Both teachers working solely with gifted students and those who work in a standard classroom setting should recognize the abilities of their students and should ensure they are suitably challenged by the materials provided. In a standard classroom environment, teachers should refer potentially gifted students to the appropriate services and assessment facilities so that they can be entered into Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs, where available.

Teachers who specialize in teaching particularly talented children may have undertaken a range of gifted teaching qualifications prior to engaging with students. In addition to this, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) provides a range of resources to assist individuals who are teaching or planning to teach gifted students. These can be used to help ensure students benefit from high-quality teaching within gifted programs and are able to reach their potential within such frameworks.

GATE: Gifted and Talented Education

In an attempt to give gifted children the support, education and challenges they need, various program options are in use.

The following options are the most commonly-used programs when it comes to educating gifted and talented students:
  • Summer Enrichment: Specialist programs running throughout the summer months, often focusing on one particular area or subject.
  • Pull-Out: For two to six hours each week, gifted children are taught in a specific class with a focus outside the standard classroom environment.
  • Acceleration: Gifted students are moved to a higher-level class, such as skipping a grade, so that they have access to materials which are more suited to their abilities.
  • Self-Contained/Full-Time: Gifted and talented students are taught together, on a full-time basis, in a specific class or school designed to meet their needs.
  • Homeschooling: Some families of gifted students choose to home-school their children, often because there are limited provisions for gifted and talented students within their school district.
  • Enrichment: Students remain in their regular classroom environment but are given extra and/or higher-level materials to meet their needs.

Educational standards for all teachers

In order to ensure that gifted students are recognized, all teachers should be familiar with the traits, common performance indicators and behaviors associated with gifted and talented students. For example, all types of teachers should:


Recognize the varying developmental milestones, learning differences and cognitive/affective characteristics of gifted students and should identify their social, emotional and academic needs. The includes students from diverse backgrounds and those with recognized disabilities.


Understand the definitions, theories and identification processes of gifted students, as well as the issues which can arise from the use of these strategies. In doing so, teachers should be able to identify all gifted students, including those from diverse backgrounds.

Undertake strategies

Recognize, plan and undertake evidence-based strategies in order to assess gifted and talented children. Following this, teachers should provide gifted students with different instructions, class content and examinations or assignments. Teachers should also nominate these students for further assessment or entrance into relevant advanced learning and/or Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs.