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Myths That Persist - A Five Part Series - Part Three

Myths That Persist- A Five Part Series

Part Three

By Teagan Taylor


“Everyone deserves to be seen, understood, taught, and appreciated.”

- Anonymous survey participant


Stakeholders took a survey on 5 common misconceptions/myths about giftedness and their opinions on what work there is left to do. Since we got so many thought provoking responses, we are doing a Five Part Series, a blog post for each of the 5 myths. Below is Myth #3!


Myth #3) Gifted students are easily identifiable

myth 3

The Numbers

graph of responses


The Problem

  • “Most teachers think gifted kids are well behaved with high grades. but often those kids are underachieving or uninterested so their grades are suffering and their maturity is nonexistent. My district does a sweep screen of all 3rd graders and it is amazing the results we have seen. Kids scoring insanely high on the nonverbal battery or other battery and kids they thought would out-perform others scoring very average.”

  • “I think a lot of the public is aware that it isn't always obvious. In certain populations (ELL, high poverty, etc.), giftedness manifests itself differently. Many people probably are themselves gifted but show it in different ways.”

  • “Teachers often have the misconception that gifted students are the ones sitting straight in their chairs, attentive to their every word, completing every assignment and never questioning them. As we in the gifted world well know, this is often far from it. Teachers have said to me that they have a kid who they think is smart, but don't want to refer them (mostly boys) because of their behavior.”

  • “AIG strategic plans lay out identification procedures, qualifying scores and services. Not all gifted students are high achievers on standardized testing. We miss those students who are not ‘school motivated’.”

  • “For school programs to function there has to be "a way" to identify gifted students. We cannot just say "all kids are gifted". That statement takes services away from truly gifted students. It also waters down the gifted programs. So in turn "the way" becomes "easily identifiable". However, this can take away from the fact that oftentimes gifted kids are hidden under many layers of bad habits, biased teachers, difficult home situations and there are many gifted kids out there we miss.”

The Solution

  • “There are plenty of students who sit still, work hard, and demonstrate understanding of grade level information. Those students are not necessarily gifted. The student who is distracted by the map on the wall, doesn't complete assignments, has a hard time focusing may be the brightest student in the classroom. Using only teacher recommendation for evaluation for gifted programming is a red flag. Students will be missed.”

  • “Being aware of characteristics that aren't typically seen as gifted, but actually show potential giftedness, is important. I think just awareness of how it looks in different areas would be helpful. I had a chart that showed this somewhere and I found it incredibly helpful.”

  • “I look for the students that have a witty sense or a sarcastic humor or maybe someone is constantly getting in trouble. Sweep screens would dispel this myth.”

  • “Having an open line of communication with classroom teachers is important. It is important for classroom teachers to really know and understand their students are important. Providing grade-wide gifted screenings is important. Teaching the educators about common traits in gifted is important (in our district that is accomplished by a beginning of year professional development staff-wide, conducted by the gifted specialist).”

  • “Pre-service and professional development training on characteristics of giftedness and use case studies as examples.”

  • “If identification was simple, schools and districts would have adopted a universal approach to it by now. Increased awareness around best practices in gifted identification would be helpful, coupled with ways to best serve them. We've identified them- now, what? Identification is just the beginning.”


Check back next time for Myth #4, “Gifted students have strong social and emotional traits”...


We would love to continue this discussion in the comments here or on our social media platforms. What are your thoughts about this myth?

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