Ability Grouping

Class assignment based on perceived ability of the students.


A strategy which is used when a student demonstrates competencies, knowledges, abilities, and/or skills which exceed that which is outlined in the planned course or text for his/her chronological or grade placement level. This can be determined by advanced work demonstrated in the classroom and pre or diagnostic tests in the skill areas. It should be emphasized that it is the student who has accelerated him/herself through a combination of incidental or intended learning. The district’s role is to identify the level of acceleration and make the appropriate educational adjustment in placement and pace.


The demand for proof that your child’s school is meeting its obligations to educate gifted children.

Achievement Grouping

Class assignment based on demonstrated achievement of the students.

Achievement Tests

Instruments that measure what your child knows academically and what he/she can do academically. Examples: California Achievement Test, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), American College Test (ACT). These tests reveal strengths and weaknesses in your child’s academic abilities. They should also help educators improve instruction, aid in forming goals and objectives for the curriculum, and determine content and skills.

Advanced Level Courses

Students receive course content normally taught at a higher grade level.

Advanced Placement Program (AP Classes)

A College Board program of college level courses taught by high school teachers; some colleges give credit for these courses upon successful completion of the AP exam. Students pay the exam fee, but the courses are free where they are offered.

Appropriate Program

An exceptional child is entitled to an appropriate program of special education or training — that is, an education program which is designed to meet the child’s individual educational needs. An appropriate program is made up of “specially designed instruction” and the “related services” needed to help the child benefit from that instruction. The law requires that the education program be fitted to the child, not the child to a preconceived program.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Hundreds of gifted programs in this country use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a model for developing curriculum for gifted children. Benjamin S. Bloom and others developed the taxonomy for educational objectives in 1956. They divided learning into three parts or domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Each domain was then divided again. For example, the cognitive domain was further broken down into activities involving: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The last three (analysis, synthesis, evaluation) are considered high-level thinking domains.


A group activity that stimulates creative and high level thinking. The word itself was developed and named by Alex Osborn, an advertising executive. Children are usually given a topic and asked to come up with as many ideas related to that topic as possible. All ideas are accepted without criticism. Brainstorming is designed to generate creative ideas no right, no wrong answers. It is the basis for many activities involving gifted children.

Cluster Grouping

Assigning several identified gifted students in the same classroom. Clustering gifted students in the regular classroom allows the teacher to differentiate learning activities for a group of identified students rather than one or two students.

Compacted Courses

Students complete courses in a content area in an abbreviated time.

Concurrent or Dual Enrollment

Students at any grade level may take classes at the next school level. For example, elementary school students take classes at junior high; junior high students take high school classes.

Continuous Progress

Students receive appropriate instruction daily and move ahead as they master content and skills. The purest form of flexible pacing, continuous progress, breaks the age-in-grade lockstop.

Convergent Thinking

Focusing on one particular answer. Convergent thinking or production is one of the elements found in Dr. J.P. Guilford’s research model of the structure of intelligence. Divergent thinking focuses on many answers. Convergent thinking focuses on a single answer. Most intelligence tests require convergent thinking.

Cooperative Learning

Refers to a set of instructional methods in which students work in small, mixed ability groups. The students are responsible not only for learning the material, but also for helping their teammates learn.


A complex mental process that is very difficult to define or measure. Creativity is more than the ability to draw well as many people believe. It involves putting together new, different, and unique ideas. It is found in all children to a certain degree. Creative thinking can be used in all content areas, not just art. Some of the experts in the field include J.W. Getzels, P. Jackson, J.P.Guilford, E. Paul Torrance, and Frank Williams.

Credit by Examination

Students enter an advanced level course or receive credit upon satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination or upon certification of mastery. (Daniel and Cox, 1988)

Cross Grade Grouping

The assignmentof students to instructional groups based upon their achievement in a particular subject rather than their grade level placement.

Curriculum Based Assessment

A system for identifying the instructional needs of the student based upon the student’s ongoing performance within existing course content, and for delivering instruction as effectively and efficiently as possible to match those needs. (See separate definitions for effectively and efficiently)

Differentiated Curriculum

A set of activities, a program, or a plan of instruction that is designed to meet the unique needs of special children. Gifted children may not deserve more than other children in our public schools, but they do deserve different. Different for gifted children means curriculum that allows for acceleration, stimulation of high level thinking, divergent thinking, and convergent thinking.


Differentiated education or services means that process of instruction which is capable of being integrated into the school program, and is adaptable to varying levels of individual learning response in the education of the gifted and talented, and includes but is not limited to:

* A differentiated curriculum embodying a high level of cognitive and affective concepts and processes beyond those normally provided in the regular curriculum of the local educational agency.

* Instructional strategies which accommodate the unique learning styles of the gifted and talented; and

* Flexible administrative arrangements for instruction both in and out of school, such as special classes, seminars, resource rooms, independent study, student internships, mentorships, research field trips, library media research centers and other appropriate arrangements. (1976 U.S. Office of Education in Academically Gifted Programs)

Divergent Thinking

Another element of J. P. Guilford’s research model for the structure of intelligence. Your gifted child is doing divergent thinking when he/she comes up with new and unique ideas about things. The ideas may not always be practical. In many ways, divergent thinking is the opposite of convergent thinking.

Due Process

Procedure used if parents disagree with any findings, recommendations regarding identification, evaluation or educational placement for your child, or if the special services are inadequate.

Due Process Hearing (DPH)

If agreement has not been reached at the PHC, a due process hearing should be requested. The purpose of a hearing is usually to determine whether the program or placement proposed by the district is or is not appropriate for the child. Hearings can also be held on whether it is necessary to evaluate a child or whether the child has been properly classified. Although the due process hearing is more formal than a pre-hearing conference, it is not a court proceeding. The district usually presents its case first; then the parents have their turn. It is important to remember that the burden is on the parents to show why the district’s proposal is not appropriate for the child; it is not enough to show that the parents’ proposal is better. Hearing officers are appointed by the State Department of Education which attempts to assign a hearing officer who has some familiarity with the type of exceptionality. Most hearing officers are educators, either employed by other school districts or IU’s, or by colleges or universities.


Maintaining instructional level at the 90% mastery level or above (see Curriculum Based Assessment).


Minimal time and supervision required for effective instruction necessary for the student to achieve at the instructional level (see Curriculum Based Assessment).

Enrichment Programs

Learning activities that go beyond the regular curricular activities. John Gowan and George Demos (The Education and Guidance of theAblest, Springfield, IL, Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, 1964) suggested that enrichment programs will be successful if the student: (1) is encouraged to search for new information; (2) is provided with leadership opportunities; (3) is able to pursue personal interests; (4) is able to engage in creative assignments; (5) can develop his/her own initiative; and (6) engages in in-depth activities that are, in fact, broadening. Enrichment programs usually take the form of special classes or special schools for the gifted. They might also involve itinerant teachers who provide regular classroom teachers with helpfor their gifted students. These special teachers might also “pull out” the gifted students from the regular classroom in order to involve them in special activities.


To make judgments about the value or worth of something. Just about anything can be evaluated: a person, an object, a happening, an organization, a program, etc. Usually a set of criteria in the form of a checklist is used to evaluate a gifted program. Quite often this checklist is given to parents as well as educators and students. Evaluations of gifted students themselves might take the form oftests, group discussions, or self-evaluation.

Evaluation, Educational

An evaluation of a child’s educational functioning in relation to his/her current educational program. The results of this evaluation are expressed in terms of both the child’s academic strengths and weaknesses.

Evaluation, Psychological

Those diagnostic procedures utilized by a psychologist which include evaluation of intellectual functioning and may include the evaluation ofeducation performance, social and personal behavior, and psychomotor development.


Refers to those persons evaluated and found to be either hearing impaired, mentally gifted, mentally retarded, physically handicapped, learning disabled, brain damaged, speech and language impaired, socially and emotionally disturbed, visually impaired, or severely multi-handicapped.

Flexible Pacing

Any provision that places students at an appropriate instructional level, creating the best possible match between students’ achievement and instruction, and allows them to move forward in the curriculum as they achieve mastery of content and skills. Flexible pacing may be achieved by avariety of methods.


Assigning students to a class or teacher within a school.

Heterogeneous Grouping

All ability orachievement levels in a class.

Higher Level Thinking

Emphasizes tasks and activities that involve (1) analysis, synthesis,and evaluation, (2) viewing situations from various perspectives, (3) finding several “layers of meaning” by using metaphors, analogies, paradoxes, and (4) generating different possible solutions by showing fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration of thought.

Homogeneous Grouping

One ability orachievement level in a class.

Honors Program

Courses or programs offered in high schools and college for high achievers. These courses are usually planned to motivate the intellectually gifted learner. The content is broader, the curriculum accelerated, and the instructor carefully selected. In some cases, high school students who complete an honors program receive college credit for their efforts.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

An IEP is a written statement of the special education and related services that an exceptional child needs in order to be educated appropriately. The IEP must describe any modifications that will be needed to the child’s regular education classes. A school district must provide for all programs and services contained in an approved IEP.

IEP Conference

An IEP is developed at a conference involving, at least, a representative of the school district or IU who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education services; the child’s teacher; the child, where appropriate; the parents; and any other person(s) whom the parents wish to attend, including their attorney or advocate. The district must tell parents prior to the conference who will be participating and must take steps to insure that the parents attend. State law requires that the IEP be developed in cooperation with the parents.


Mental images or pictures as produced by memory or imagination. Educators in increasing numbers are learning the importance of teaching children how to “see,” that is, how to create images in their minds. One such method now being used in many classrooms is guided fantasy. The child closes his/her eyes and tries to create images that have been stimulated by a story or poem the teacher is reading. After the fantasy, the children are usually asked to tell, write, or draw about what they have imaged.

Independent Evaluation

An evaluation obtained by the parents through a source outside the school district. The school district must consider the results of an independent evaluation.

Independent Study

A self-directed style of learning. Independent study is usually done with the help of a teacher; however, the role of the teacher is limited. The student completes various activities on his/her own time. One important goal of independent study is to teach children that there are several ways to gather information and learn things. Some gifted students have become locked into a “book learning” mode. An in-depth independent study program will stretch the gifted student into discovering new ways of researching an idea, such as conducting interviews, viewing films, and writing letters to authorities related to a topic.

Instructional Level

Determined by diagnostic testing and full assessment of a child’s rate of acquisition and rate of retention of skills. Diagnostic testing may include curriculum based assessment in reading and math and/or standardized normed tests; i.e. Key Math,Woodcock-Johnson.

Intermediate Unit (IU)

Many school districts are served by Intermediate Units. The IU is contracted by the district to provide these services: 1) curriculum development and instructional improvement services; 2) educational planning services; 3) instructional materials services; 4) continuing professional education services; 5) pupil personnel services; 6) state and federal agency liaison services; 7) management services; 8) special education; 9) vocational education; 10) non-public school services; 11) data processing services, and 12) nutrition education.

Learning Styles

A term used to describe personality, psychological traits, social behaviors, developmental differences, communication styles, and environmental preferences (Ramsay, 1991). There are several learning style theories which attempt to correlate the traits of learners with teaching methods which will promote optimum learning situations.

Mastery Learning

A model of learning in which all but a very few students are expected to achieve over time the mastery of predetermined subject matter and skills (Taylor, 1990).

Mentally Gifted in PA

Outstanding intellectual and creative ability, the development of which requires special services and programs not ordinarily provided in the regular education program. This term includes a person who has an IQ of130 or higher and when multiple criteria as set forth in Department Guidelines indicate gifted ability. Determination of gifted ability will not be based on IQ score alone. A person with an IQ score lower than 130 may be admitted to gifted programs when other educational criteria in the profile of the person strongly indicate gifted ability. Determination of mentally gifted shall include a full assessment and comprehensive report by a public school psychologist specifying the nature and degree of the ability. (Section 342.1, Rules and Regulations).

Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation (MDE)

The information compiled by the multidisciplinary team (MDT), which describes a student’s academic functioning, adapted behavior, social behavior, learning problems, learning strengths, and educational needs.

Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT)

A group of persons including at least one teacher or other specialist with knowledge in the area of suspected exceptionality. MDT staffing would be composed of the child’s teacher, school psychologist, and IU supervisor. Records of the child’s academic performance are evaluated by this team and appropriate recommendations made. MDT process is used in initial placement as well as reevaluations.

Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA)

Sets out the district’s recommendation for the placement of the child — that is, it lists the facility and type of class to which the district wishes to assign the child. In addition, the NORA serves as the “due process” notice in that it provides space for the parent to indicate approval or disapproval of the placement and program and explains the parents’ rights if they disapprove. By indicating their disapproval, parents begin the due process procedures, the first step of which is a pre-hearing conference.

Outcome Based Education (OBE)

A way of focusing and organizing all of the school’s programs and instructional efforts around the clearly defined outcomes we want all students to demonstrate when they leave school. The mission of OBE is to equip All students with the knowledge, competencies, and orientations needed for future success and to implement programs and conditions that maximize learning success for ALL students. In OBE, the philosophy is success for all students and staff. OBE includes clearly defined exit outcomes that directly reflect the knowledge, competencies and orientations needed by positive, contributing adults in an increasingly complex, changing world, and that all students successfully demonstrate before they leave school. It includes a system of instructional placement, grouping and eligibility that enables students to advance through the curriculum whenever they can successfully demonstrate essential performance prerequisites for new units or courses. OBE encourages students and staff to attain high performance levels. (Spady, 1991)


The overachiever is a figment of someone’s imagination. If a child performs at a higher level than we would normally have expected, then our estimates were wrong, not the child’s performance… the performance cannot exceed the capacity. (Ehrlich, 1985)

Peer Tutoring

A program where students teach other students. When older children tutor younger children, it is usually referred to as cross-age tutoring. It can be an emotionally gratifying experience for gifted children to teach. However, parents should be on the lookout for signs that peer tutoring is being overdone. Peer tutoring should never be used as a substitute for teacher instruction.

Pre-hearing Conference (PHC)

* The first stage of the due process procedures, which may be requested at any time there is disagreement over a school district action or refusal to act, or whenever the parent is dissatisfied with the child’s program or placement and has been unable to resolve those concerns.

* The PHC is a meeting at which the parents and district should attempt to resolve as many areas of dispute as possible. A PHC also provides an opportunity for each side to find out the basis of the other’s position.There is no limit to the number of PHC’s which can be held. On the other hand, either party can waive the PHC and go directly to a hearing.

* A PHC should be requested in writing. The district must schedule (notnecessarily hold) the PHC within ten (10) days of its receipt of thewritten request. The PHC must include, at minimum, a special education supervisor, the child’s teacher, a professional who has evaluated the child, the parents, and anyone the parents wish to invite.

Problem-Solving Method

Defined by the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics as the process of applying previously acquired knowledge to new and unfamiliar situations. Many teachers of the gifted devote large amounts of time to the formal teaching of problem solving. The method may involve researching a specific problem, analyzing various situations, group discussions, simulation games, evaluation and follow up.

Pull-out Program

Any program which takes one or more students from the regular classroom during the school day.

Rate of Acquisition

Ability of student to acquire new vocabulary or facts and the amount ofinformation that the student can acquire in an average CBA session.

Rate of Retention

Ability of student to retain and demonstrate newly acquired/learned information over a period of time.


A review required by law at least every two years of a child’s program and placement. Compliance may be through the MDT process or actual retesting.

Related Services

In order to benefit from special education, some exceptional children need certain related services. Such services may include speech therapy, occupational and/or physical therapy, psychological services and transportation. Related services should be provided in the amount necessary to assist the child to benefit from his or her special education program, and are detailed in the IEP.

Risk Taker

Not afraid of failure, willing to take chances in order to learn new things. Many gifted children are perfectionists and do not like to get involved in new activities unless they know or believe they can do it easily and correctly. Unfortunately, some gifted children learn to be average in school because they have never learned to be risk takers. An important goal of many gifted programs is to provide opportunities for risk taking. (Leadership activities, creative problem-solving programs, simulation games, etc.)


Screening consists of first-step assessment procedures aimed at selecting students who may have special needs. Two separate components may be identified: 1) mass screening or sweep screening from the preschool or school-age population., and 2) individual screening is the identification, from a population of preschool or school-aged children referred from mass screening or other sources, of specific academic or behavioral problem areas which need further in-depth evaluation.


A feeling about one’s self-worth or self-concept. A positive self-image is the key to success for most people, children included. When a gifted child lacks confidence in his/her own abilities, no amount of outside motivation will turn them into a high achiever. Students with a high self-esteem believe in themselves. High achievement and high self-esteem go hand in hand.

Special Education

A basic education program planned to meet the educational needs of exceptional persons.


To cover the same amount of materials or activities in less time and therefore allowing more time for enrichment activities and projects better suited to individual interest and needs.


A child whose school work is not consistent with the teacher’s estimate of his or her ability to learn. (Ehrlich, 1985) 920

Within class regrouping

Students are grouped together within a class for one or more subject areas (usually math and language arts) based on achievement or mastery of the content.