Student Support Services » Gifted Education

Gifted Education


In Penns Valley, gifted education seeks to develop the whole child to maximum potential, both academically and socially, while fostering an intrinsic motivation to be an independent thinker and life-long learner

Characteristics and Behaviors of the Gifted

  • Keen power of observation; sense of the significant
  • Highly verbal
  • Questioning attitude, intellectual curiosity; often has great intrinsic motivation or is a self-starter
  • Power of abstraction, conceptualization, ability to pull ideas and information together; enjoyment of intellectual activity
  • Interest in cause-effect relations, ability to see relationships
  • Reads actively
  • High degree of task commitment
  • Shares unusual interests
  • Interested in everything at once
  • Takes risks
  • Describes experiences from unusual point of view
  • Has keen verbal humor
  • Gets bored easily
  • Daydreams noticeably
  • Gets involved in complex discussions
  • Not confined by sex-role stereotyped behaviors
  • Introspective–self critical–self checking
  • Creativeness and inventiveness, looking for new ways of doing things. Interest in creating, brainstorming, or open-ended thinking
  • Generally acts like an older child
  • Uncooperative about doing routine learning tasks
  • Often takes leadership roles in group activities
  • Spends time observing prior to participation in activity
  • Tells elaborate stories about personal experiences
  • Expresses concern and knowledge about world problems
  • Expresses moral concerns about others
  • Effectively resolves interpersonal problems
  • Persistent about everything
  • Uses extensive detail in drawings and descriptions
  • Pays little attention to details of living
  • Fantasizes freely
  • Learns efficiently, mastering ideas with one or two examples


From the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE)

How are students identified as gifted?

If a parent or a teacher believes that a child might be gifted and/or the curriculum in the regular education classroom is not meeting his/her needs, a referral for testing can be made.   Based upon the referral, a Gifted Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation will be completed.  

The Gifted Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation (GMDE) is a process to gather the information that will be used to determine if a child is mentally gifted and in need of gifted support services.   Information is gathered through the screening process, parent and teacher input, a review of student records, and a formal evaluation by a certified school psychologist.   Information is collected from parents, teachers, and the student that is relevant to the child’s academic functioning, learning strengths, and educational needs.  All information will be compiled into a Gifted Written Report (GWR), which shall include recommendations as to whether the student is gifted and in need of specially designed instruction.  The initial evaluation shall be completed and a copy of the evaluation report will be presented to the parents no later than 60 calendar days after the school district receives written parental consent for evaluation, except that the calendar days from the day after the last day of the spring school term up to and including the day before the first day of the subsequent fall school term shall not be counted.

A student is considered mentally gifted when they have an IQ of 130 or higher (utilizing a 95% probability rate) or when multiple criteria strongly indicate gifted ability.  When considering results of gifted assessments, the school district will not make its determination of gifted ability based on IQ scores alone.  Additionally, deficits in memory or processing speed, as indicated by testing, will not be the sole basis upon which a student would be determined not to be mentally gifted. 

Following the completion of the GWR, the Gifted IEP (GIEP) meeting must be completed within 30 calendar days.  The invitation to the GIEP meeting will be sent to the parents at least ten (10) calendar days prior to the scheduled GIEP meeting.  The Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) can be presented to parents at the GIEP meeting or by certified mail within five (5) calendar days after the completion of the IEP meeting.  The parents shall have ten (10) calendar days to respond to the NORA sent by mail or five (5) calendar days to response to a NORA presented in person at the conclusion of the GIEP meeting. The GIEP will be implemented no more than ten (10) school days after the NORA is signed (or the start of the following school year if completed fewer than 30 days prior to the last day of school).  If the parents receive the notice in person and approve the recommended assignment within five (5) calendar days, the school district may not implement the GIEP for at least five (5) calendar days. 


What are the benefits of having my child identified as gifted?

Identifying a student as gifted alerts the school to the need to make appropriate changes to meet the student’s accelerated rate of learning and advanced level of learning.  This allows for the development of their academic and personal potential.  Research has found that gifted and talented students make greater gains in achievement when instruction is adapted to their needs.  On the other hand, when the needs of gifted students are overlooked, they often become disengaged from school.

Because of their extraordinary learning abilities, gifted and talented students face a number of unique challenges. Their vocabulary or thought patterns may make it difficult for other children of the same age to understand them.  When they are not sufficiently challenged, gifted and talented students may withdraw or become troublemakers. Gifted and talented students may be the target of bullies or resentful peers.  Teachers may inappropriately expect these students to become teachers' helpers, which can add to the problems they face with peers.


What can I expect from gifted programming?

Every child is different.  Some gifted and talented students are well-behaved, well-adjusted and high-achieving.  Some are social and/or popular; others are shy or quiet.  Some are athletic; others prefer to read or be creative.  Some are happy; others are depressed.

Gifted and talented students do not all have the same level of ability.  Some researchers identify several levels of giftedness based on IQ scores.  A higher degree of ability may require more modifications in school and at home than is necessary for more moderately gifted children. 

A student who is identified to be gifted is in need of specially designed instruction (SDI). In the Penns Valley Area School District a gifted student is supported by a Gifted Multidisciplinary Team (GMDT) and a Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP) team. All GIEP’s are reviewed and/or revised at least once a year. Gifted students have unusual learning qualities and needs. The Penns Valley Area School District provides programs to gifted students which enable them to learn at different rates, to learn different material earlier, and to think at a level different from their classmates. GIEP’s are matched to the identified need, age, and developmental level of the individual student. GIEP’s are unique to the student and consciously designed to promote acceleration, enrichment, and/or differentiation.


Initiatives: This is the HOW we reach our philosophy

  • Enrichment refers to the presentation of curriculum content with more depth, breadth, complexity, or abstractness than the general education.   Students explore a concept or topic to much more depth than is required by the regular curriculum. 
  • Acceleration refers to the presenting curriculum content earlier or at a faster pace. 
  • Cluster Grouping refers to assigning small groups of gifted and/or high achieving students to an otherwise mixed-ability classroom within their grade to be instructed by a teacher using specialized skills.
  • Differentiation refers to a change in content, process and/or product based on an individual student’s abilities and interests.  This does not mean more work, it means different work.

Programming at Penns Valley: This is the WHEN and WHERE initiatives can occur

  • In the Classroom: Differentiation, cluster grouping and enrichment can be accomplished in the classroom by the regular education teacher in consultation with the gifted support teacher. 
  • In A Different Classrooms: Students can accelerate by an entire grade level or by just one subject.  For example, a second grade student might attend a third or a fourth grade math class but stay in second grade for all other instruction.
  • Scheduled Time During the Day: Each school in Penns Valley Area School District has a dedicated time during each day for remediation and enrichment activities.   During this time, our students have the opportunities to participate in cluster grouping and differentiated instruction as appropriate.
  • Independently: Students who are gifted in a specific area also have an Independent study option

Role of the Gifted Support Teacher

The gifted support teacher is a facilitator and resource for students, parents, and classroom teachers.  They are tasked with the following:

  • Developing a Gifted Individual Education Plan (GIEP) for each student identified as meeting the criteria to be gifted.  The plan should be developed with the entire team.
  • Supporting the gifted student in the regular classroom by providing consultation services
  • Discussing/Explaining options with regards to enrichment, acceleration, cluster grouping and differentiation
  • Supporting teachers in developing and delivering content