WUOMFM

gifted

Young boy doing homework
Eric Cuthbert / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It seemed like skipping students ahead a grade level or putting them in split-grade classes were common strategies to keep advanced students engaged when I was in elementary school.

Young boy doing homework
Eric Cuthbert / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When a student is identified as gifted, they are often given access to resources to help them flourish. Things like accelerated classes, individualized learning plans, and academically rigorous instruction.

But critics of gifted and talented programs argue that they reinforce race and class opportunity gaps. That may be because students of color are underrepresented in gifted programs relative to white students.

Sharon Pruitt / Flickr

I came across a study today that looked at how a group of very gifted children became "innovators and leaders" as adults. The study, from Vanderbilt University, identified 320 gifted children at the age of 13 using an SAT test. The cutoff score meant that all of the 320 students in the sample represented the top 1 in 10,000 for achievement on that test.

The study's authors followed the kids for 30 years, and (surprise, surprise) the children ended up achieving great things. Most earned at least a Masters degree in college. Forty-four percent earned a PhD. Many held patents. A few wrote novels. Two became vice presidents at Fortune 500 companies. One ended up advising the president.

What do these results tell us? The study's authors say the results show conclusively that gifted kids make for gifted adults. From the study's conclusion: 

Young adolescents with profound talent in mathematical and verbal reasoning hold extraordinary potential for enriching society by contributing creative products and competing in global economies.

But, as you might have guessed, I don't think the lessons from this study are quite so simple.