The free, appropriate public education of the gifted is a mandate in Pennsylvania.
Like all exceptional children, the gifted possess special characteristics that affect their ability to learn to a significant degree. They will not reach their full educational potential unless their curricula is substantially modified to the degree needed by the individual student's learning needs.
Gifted students' current educational needs, not their prospects for future eminence, should guide implementation of their program.
Those who have needs that are not currently being met by the existing district curriculum need specially designed instruction to address those needs.
Those students served in programs for the gifted will and should vary from school district to school district.
Since school “giftedness” should be defined in terms of individual needs that are not addressed by the school's regular curriculum, and since curricula differ from one school district to another, different kinds of students will be identified for special programs in different districts. A child who is correctly placed in program for the gifted in one school district conceivably may not require such a placement in another.
No single program model can be appropriate for all school districts.
Schools and the communities in which they are located differ from one another in numerous important ways. No single approach to meeting the needs of the gifted can be right for all schools and all communities.
Programs for the gifted should be based on information gleaned from formal comprehensive needs assessments.
Specially designed programs for the gifted are to remedy regular educational systems that are not working for the gifted. They are prescriptions that are more likely to be effective if they are based upon thorough diagnoses. Without a comprehensive assessment, planning a program is closer to fantasy than to education based on actual learning experiences.
The needs of gifted children are best addressed in the company of their ability and age peers.
Recent research studies from the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented support as much homogeneous grouping of the gifted as can be effected in a given school or school district. Although it is the norm in this country to keep gifted in regular education for the majority of their school time, Chapter 14/342 [now Chapter 16] explains that gifted students must be placed where the appropriate program and services required by the student can be implemented.
Curricula for gifted students should stress the acquisition of important knowledge.
Knowledge has taken a back seat to less important things in many special curricula for the gifted. As a result, too many special programs are characterized by trivial curricula, a lack of rigor, extra curricular activities, and student indifference. The goal of education is the learning of declarative and procedural knowledge, including learning how to learn.
This statement is not meant to limit the ways in which knowledge can be taught and learned, but to restore the pursuit of knowledge and high levels of thinking skills to its rightful place in the education of the gifted.