I was recently asked what identification methods are available for elementary grades. Unfortunately, there isn't too much published and available at this point. Many school still use IQ or achievement scores ONLY, which is extremely short sighted, in my opinion. Teacher recommendations are much better. The following explains my method of identification as the facilitator of the gifted program in a public elementary school

When I was coordinating a gifted program what I did was to ask teachers about their previous year's students and current ones. After a basic screening for the top 15% based on achievement scores and any other status information, I would list these students in each class down the side of a paper. Across the top of the paper I had the categories that Renzulli uses to define gifted behavior as column headings - Above Average Ability, Creativity, and Task Commitment. I had another column for Overall Recommendation and a column for notes on each child. There is also room for them to add other students at the bottom of the list. The teachers were asked to put a checkmark in the column if a student had that skill - ie. creativity, and a star in the column is the student was really outstanding in that skill. Then they had to make a decision if they would recommend the student - moderately (checkmark) or highly (star) and could leave comments about the child in the last box or on other paper.

Using the previous teacher's as well as the current teacher's comments helped get an idea which students were really high achievers and needed extra attention beyond the classroom. These forms combined with follow up meetings with the teachers worked really well. Some teachers will only select two students from the list while others will identify all of them plus a half dozen others who she feels are all extremely gifted. You'll need to work with these teachers about their expectations and what you can and cannot realistically provide. Occasionally a teacher will identify a previously unrecognized candidate who may be underachieving, but clearly very talented, or another child who may have been missed by standardized testing methods. Please look very carefully at these students and try to find ways to identify them and not exclude them from services that may be just what they need to excel.

You can also do a similar checklist using the categories from Multiple Intelligences theory or other categories your program is going to service. For instance, if you are going to run a unit just on Math ability, then your identification should be looking for primarily the high ability math students and not necessarily the students who are all around good students, but may not excel specifically in math. The identification should match the program.

You can also have students self-select based on Action Information from Type I's done in the classroom. If a student gets turned on to doing a project they need to have a way to let their teacher know it and figure out what project they will do. They can use a Lightbulb type form to indicate this interest. Then the teacher has to figure out if she can facilitate this project or if the student can come out of the classroom to work on it with you.

Another common method is using Interest Surveys to develop small interest based groups. This is particularly effective at getting the students to want to participate, if they feel they have had some choice in the matter of what they are taught.

These are just a few methods of identification for gifted programs. There are many others. Feel free to email with ideas to add to this.

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