Underachievement in school is a serious
problem in the gifted population. If we compare scores of all gifted
students on individual aptitude tests with their level of performance,
we would likely find as many as 70 percent underachieving. High school
dropout studies found that between 10 and 20 percent of those who do not
complete high school test in the gifted range. It is estimated that
between 15 and 40 percent of all gifted students are at risk of
underachievement (Whitmore, 1980; Rimm, 2003; Seeley, 1993).
Highly gifted children are frequently placed
at risk in the early years of school through misidentification,
inappropriate grade-placement and a seriously inadequate curriculum
Profoundly gifted individuals have been
identified in all races, cultures and economic levels, although some
cultures support, nurture and develop giftedness more than others
(Clark, 1997; VanTassel-Baska, & Seeley, 1989; Kearney & LeBlanc, 1993).
Research on acceleration or grade skipping
has been found to have almost uniformly positive results; acceleration
is educationally and socially advantageous for highly gifted learners.
No other arrangement for gifted children works as well as acceleration,
which is far more effective in raising student achievement than the most
successful school reform models (Clark, 1997; Colangelo, Assouline &
Vulnerabilities of highly gifted children
include uneven development, perfectionism, adult expectations, intense
sensitivity, self-definition, alienation, inappropriate educational
environments and role conflict (Roedell, 1994).
Social isolation experienced by highly
gifted children is caused by the absence of a suitable peer group with
whom to relate (DeHann & Havighurst, 1957; Janos, 1993; Hollingworth,
1931; Gross, 1993).
Because exceptionally gifted children often
have high levels of energy and require less sleep, they are sometimes
misdiagnosed as being hyperactive. These traits can look like
hyperactivity, but there is a difference. The energy of a gifted child
is focused, directed and intense, whereas the energy of a hyperactive
child is diffuse, random and sporadic (Clark, 1997).
The exceptionally gifted or profoundly
gifted child requires an educational program which differs quite
radically in structure, pace and content from that which might be
offered to moderately gifted age-mates (Gross, 1992).
education is essential to serving the needs of the exceptionally gifted.
The higher the deviation above the mean, the greater number of possible
combinations and re-combinations of abilities. No one highly gifted
child can be expected to be like any other with the same score.
Therefore, no single-focused program…can hope to adequately serve a
population with such potentially complex profiles (Lewis, 1984).