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Abstract

Describes the talent search identification model, developed by W. Foster (1979), which is a standardized approach to the screening, verification, and placement of gifted and talented children. The model identifies junior high school students who have already scored at the 95th percentile or above on standardized achievement tests; it also uses the Scholastic Aptitude Test as a 2nd-level test to determine mathematical and verbal ability. Steps in the establishment of a talent pool and guidelines for score discrimination on various tests are discussed. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Gifted Child Quarterly
DOI: 10.1177/0016986207306318
2007; 51; 320 Gifted Child Quarterly
Mary Ann Swiatek The Talent Search Model: Past, Present, and Future
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320
The Talent Search Model:
Past, Present, and Future
Mary Ann Swiatek
Carnegie Mellon Institute for Talented Elementary and Secondary Students
Abstract: Typical standardized achievement tests cannot provide accurate information about gifted students’ abilities
because they are not challenging enough for such students. Talent searches solve this problem through above-level
testing—using tests designed for older students to raise the ceiling for younger, gifted students. Currently, talent
search programs serve gifted students from grades 2 through 8 throughout the mainland United States and in several
foreign countries. Extensive research demonstrates that above-level test scores differentiate among levels of gifted-
ness and have important implications for educational planning. Students with high scores learn advanced material
rapidly and well and thrive in accelerated learning settings. Therefore, talent searches have followed up on testing
with educational programs, many of which focus on acceleration. Decades of research have documented both acad-
emic and psychosocial benefits to participants. Perhaps the greatest challenge ahead of the talent searches is that of
facilitating the appropriate education of gifted students in the school setting.
Putting the Research to Use: The research that has proceeded from various talent search programs clearly has
supported the use of above-level testing to determine the extent of a student’s ability in a domain and to predict
future achievements. Research also has clearly demonstrated that gifted students, identified through talent search
methods, are able to learn advanced material quickly and well. Therefore, talent search methods can be used by
schools to test gifted students, either through external talent search programs or though the use of existing tests
that are designed for students at least two grade levels above that of the gifted student(s) being tested. Results from
this testing can be used to identify students for fast-paced programming, which can be implemented either within
a school or across a larger area, such as a school district or a particular geographic region. Such programming can
use existing materials, curricula, and faculty to provide an inexpensive way to meet the needs of gifted students.
When necessary, online programs can provide self-paced classes to qualified students.
Keywords: talent search; above-level testing; academic acceleration; ceiling effect; DT
PI model
Gifted Child Quarterly
Volume 51 Number 4
Fall 2007 320-329
© 2007 National Association for
Gifted Children
10.1177/0016986207306318
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Traditionally, school students take standardized tests
to measure their achievement in various academic
subjects. These tests measure knowledge of material that
is considered appropriate for a student’s grade level and
provide a comparison between a given student or school
and national norm groups. For students with very high
scores, however, such tests do not provide specific infor-
mation about their academic accomplishments. A very
high score indicates that a student answered most or all
items on the test correctly. Therefore, it indicates that the
student knows the grade-level material that comprised the
test items. What it cannot indicate is how much material
the student knows that is beyond grade level. On a typical
achievement test, a student who knows grade-level mate-
rial well, but knows little beyond that level, will earn a
score equivalent to a student who knows grade-level
material well and also knows a significant amount of
higher level material (see George, 1979; Lupkowski-
Shoplik, Benbow, Assouline, & Brody, 2003; Olszewski-
Kubilius, 1998b; Stanley, 1976). Approximately 35 years
ago, Dr. Julian C. Stanley of Johns Hopkins University
first addressed this problem by giving high-scoring
students an above-level test—that is, one that was
designed for older individuals and therefore, was com-
prised of higher level items (Stanley, 1976, 1996). From
this testing concept grew a model for identifying and
Author’s Note: Address correspondence concerning this article
to Mary Ann Swiatek, KidsPeace Athlete Center, 5300 KidsPeace
Drive, Orefield, PA 18069; e-mail: swiatek@rcn.com.
Note: This article accepted under the editorship of Paula Olszewski-
Kubilius.
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educating students with exceptionally strong academic
reasoning abilities: the talent search model.
Development of the Talent Search Model
The first administration of an above-level test
occurred in 1969 (see Stanley, 1976, 1996, for details).
Dr. Stanley, then primarily an expert in statistics and
psychological measurement, was asked to assess a 13-
year-old boy named Joe who showed extraordinary
ability in computer science. Because Joe was taking
college-level courses, Dr. Stanley decided to use
college-level tests for the assessment—among them,
the College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
Joe’s high scores prompted his parents and Dr. Stanley
to seek high-level academic opportunities for him.
When high schools were reluctant to allow such a
young child to take their advanced placement (AP)
courses, Joe enrolled at Johns Hopkins University as a
very young college student. His success there was strik-
ing. Another family with an extremely able child heard
about him and sought Dr. Stanley’s help. Again the SAT
was part of the assessment, and again the assessment
was accurate: The student was able to enter Johns
Hopkins University at a very young age, and again the
student’s success was remarkable. Long term, both
boys established successful technical careers.
In the fall of 1971, with financial support from the
Spencer Foundation, Dr. Stanley and his colleagues cre-
ated the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth
(SMPY) and recruited local students for further testing
and research. In March 1972, they conducted the first
talent search, administering the mathematics component
of the SAT (SAT-M) to 450 gifted seventh and eighth
graders from the Baltimore area in what would become
an annual event. The following year, they added the ver-
bal portion of the SAT (SAT-V) to the talent search
(Stanley, 1996).
The staff of SMPY realized that identification alone
was not sufficient to help the students whose high acad-
emic ability was identified in a talent search. Therefore,
in the spring of 1972, the first SMPY class was held. It
was a fast-paced math class for highly able students who
had completed the sixth grade (Benbow, Perkins, &
Stanley, 1983; Fox, 1974; Stanley, 1996). The class was
very successful: “In twelve to fourteen months, eight
students completed 4½ years of mathematics, two com-
pleted 3½ years, and six completed 2 years” (Benbow
et al., 1983, p. 53). In the summer of 1980, the first
residential program to offer fast-paced classes to
students with high scores on above-level tests was held
at Johns Hopkins University, through the Center for
Talented Youth (CTY), an offshoot of SMPY estab-
lished to administer educational programs (Stanley,
1996). The success of students in these classes, com-
bined with the success of the early entrants to Johns
Hopkins, provided evidence that academic acceleration
is an effective way to meet the educational needs of
highly able students; acceleration became and remains a
focus of the talent search model.
Since then, university-based, regional talent searches
have been developed to provide above-level testing and
accelerated classes to students throughout the mainland
United States (see Table 1). In 1987, the American
College Testing Program (ACT) also began to be used as
an above-level test for students in seventh and eighth
grades (Sawyer & Brounstein, 1988; Stanley & York,
1988). In addition to the ongoing program at CTY,
regional talent search programs currently are adminis-
tered by the Center for Talent Development (CTD;
Northwestern University), the Rocky Mountain Talent
Search (University of Denver), and the Talent Identifica-
tion Program (TIP; Duke University). In addition
several state-based programs have been developed (see
Lupkowski-Shoplik et al., 2003), and talent search meth-
ods are being used outside the United States (e.g.,
Gilheany, 2001; Tourón, 2001).
In the early 1990s, the talent search concept was
extended to elementary students (see Assouline &
Lupkowski-Shoplik, 2003; Colangelo, Assouline, &
Lu, 1994; Lupkowski-Shoplik & Assouline, 1993;
Lupkowski-Shoplik & Swiatek, 1999). In the CTY
Talent Search (2007), gifted second through sixth
graders take versions of the School and College
Ability Test (SCAT) that were written by the
Educational Testing Service for students two to three
grades higher. The Carnegie Mellon Institute for Talented
Elementary and Secondary Students (C-MITES;
Carnegie Mellon University), TIP, CTD, and the
Belin and Blank International Center for Gifted
Education and Talent Development (University of
Iowa) offer gifted third through sixth graders the
EXPLORE test, a test developed by ACT in 2001
for eighth graders (see Lupkowski-Shoplik et al.,
2003). Talent search methods have been shown to be
effective at identifying academic talent in elementary
students (e.g., Colangelo et al., 1994; Lupkowski-
Shoplik & Assouline, 1993; Lupkowski-Shoplik &
Swiatek, 1999) and providing them with challenging
educational experiences (e.g., Mills, Ablard, &
Gustin, 1994).
Swiatek / Talent Search Model 321
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322 Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4
What Can Be Learned From
Above-Level Test Scores?
Various definitions of giftedness have been proposed
over the years, ranging from the ability to achieve high
scores on traditional intelligence (IQ) tests to achieve-
ment in multiple areas that include not only IQ, but also
motivation, creativity, and others (see Stephens &
Karnes, 2000). Because above-level tests are given
when students are too young to have been taught the test
content in school, the results are best viewed as indica-
tors of reasoning ability, not retention (George, 1979;
Lubinski & Benbow, 1994; Stanley & Benbow, 1986). It
is this advanced reasoning ability that is the focus of the
talent search conception of giftedness.
One of the greatest misconceptions about talent
searches is that they reiterate information about
students’ abilities that already is available from typi-
cal standardized testing (see Swiatek & Lupkowski-
Shoplik, 2005). In fact, important information about
gifted students’ abilities is provided by above-level
testing, above and beyond that available through
traditional standardized achievement tests typically
administered in school. Also, above-level tests are
good predictors of future academic accomplishment
among gifted students.
Extent of Giftedness
Students who qualify for talent searches are those
who earn extremely high scores on in-grade standard-
ized achievement tests (i.e., at or above the 95th or, for
some talent searches, the 97th percentile). Scores at this
level indicate that students answered all or nearly all of
the test items correctly; the test did not contain items dif-
ficult enough to challenge these students. Therefore, the
results of typical achievement testing can show that a
student knows the material expected for his or her grade
level, but cannot show what the student might know
beyond the grade-level material included in the test. The
level at which the test items are written produces a ceil-
ing effect that limits the ability of the test to measure
gifted students’ abilities accurately (see George, 1979;
Lupkowski-Shoplik et al., 2003; Olszewski-Kubilius,
1998b; Stanley, 1976).
Table 1
University-Based, Regional Talent Searches in the Mainland United States
Talent Search
Center for Talented Youth
Center for Talent
Development
Rocky Mountain Talent
Search
Talent Identification
Program
University
Johns Hopkins
Northwestern
Denver
Duke
Region Covered
Alaska, Arizona, California,
Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii,
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New
York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, Vermont, Virginia,
Washington, West Virginia, and the
District of Columbia
Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota,
North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota,
and Wisconsin
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada,
New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, South
Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas
Contact Informationa
5801 Smith Avenue
#400 McAuley Hall
Baltimore, MD 21209
http://www.cty.jhu.edu
ctyinfo@jhu.edu
(410) 735-4100
617 Dartmouth Place
Evanston, IL 60208
http://www.ctd.northwestern.edu
ctd@northwestern.edu
(847) 491-3782
College of Education
Office of Academic Youth Programs
1981 South University Blvd.
Denver, CO 80208 http://www.du.edu/
education/ces/rmts.html
rmts-info@du.edu
(303) 871-2983
1121 West Main Street
Durham, NC 27701-2028
http://www.tip.duke.edu
(919) 668-9100
a. Contact information includes mailing address, Web site, telephone number, and e-mail address when available.
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Swiatek / Talent Search Model 323
The logical solution to this problem is to use more
difficult tests for gifted students. Talent searches
accomplish this by using standardized tests that were
developed for older students with younger, gifted
students. This above-level testing enables gifted
students to take more challenging tests that can better
measure their abilities, and it provides well-researched,
secure tests that have solid norms for comparison. All
the requirements of a good test are met, and the test
content is appropriate to the ability level of the students
(e.g., Stanley & Benbow, 1986). As Olszewski-Kubilius
(1998b) notes, above-level testing “simply means that
the selection of the testing instrument is made on the
basis of the students’ pre-existing level of knowledge,
skill, or capabilities in an area or domain rather than
chronological age or grade” (p. 107).
The use of qualifying scores at the 95th percentile on
in-grade achievement tests has been supported empiri-
cally (Ebmeier & Schmulbach, 1989; Lupkowski-
Shoplik & Swiatek, 1999). Despite the fact that all
talent search participants have in-grade test scores in
the top 3% to 5% of U.S. students in their grade, the
scores they earn on above-level tests are normally dis-
tributed, with scores covering most or all of the range
of the instrument (George, 1979; Lupkowski-Shoplik
et al., 2003; Lupkowski-Shoplik & Swiatek, 1999;
Olszewski-Kubilius, 1998b). Further, talent search par-
ticipants earn scores as high as (Lubinski & Benbow,
1994) or higher than (George, 1979) those of the older
students for whom the tests were designed. In effect,
above-level testing “spreads out” the scores of highly
able students, allowing a far more specific understand-
ing of actual ability level than can be gleaned from tests
with lower ceilings (i.e., in-grade achievement tests).
Suppose, for example, that two students of the same
age have scores at the 98th percentile on in-grade
achievement tests in mathematics. These two students
appear to have identical ability and, therefore, very sim-
ilar educational needs in math. In a talent search, these
students earn percentile scores based on a comparison
with students several years older than them. One
student may earn an above-level test score at the 85th
percentile in math, whereas the other may score at the
30th percentile. These above-level test scores highlight
differences in mathematical reasoning ability that were
masked by the ceiling effects of the in-grade test and
suggest quite different educational needs for the two
students.
Prediction of Future Performance
The predictive validity of above-level tests has
been demonstrated through the academic success of
high-scoring students. Beginning with the student who
first took an above-level test in 1969 (Stanley, 1996), lon-
gitudinal case studies by talent searches have docu-
mented impressive achievements among seventh and
eighth graders who earned high scores on the SAT (e.g.,
George, 1979; Lubinski & Benbow, 1994; Stanley, 1976,
1977–1978; Stanley & Benbow, 1986). These individu-
als did well in advanced classes. Many went on to pres-
tigious colleges and graduate schools, often at young
ages, earned advanced degrees, won a variety of awards
and honors, and became prominent in their career fields.
Although case studies provided evidence that
students identified as highly gifted via above-level test-
ing were very successful in their future endeavors, the
lack of a comparison group made it difficult to deter-
mine whether such success was limited to those with
high scores, or the same might be said for individuals
with more moderate above-level test scores. Similarly,
early group studies, such as the first description of the
original SMPY fast-paced math class (Fox, 1974),
involved no comparison group. Since then, studies of
this class have compared participants to eligible
students who did not attend (e.g., Benbow et al., 1983;
Swiatek & Benbow, 1991). These comparisons demon-
strated that participation in the fast-paced class was
associated with a variety of long-term academic bene-
fits, as described below, but they still did not address the
question of whether students with lower tested ability
could succeed equally well.
In 1981, Bartkovich and Mezynski studied the perfor-
mance of seventh graders with high SAT scores in a fast-
paced, summer precalculus mathematics class, using
students from two different years. In 1978, entrance into
the program required an above-level SAT-M score of
at least 600 and an SAT composite score of at least 1100;
in 1979, the requirement was 500 on the SAT-M and
1000 composite. The classes first tested students to
determine what material already had been mastered, then
provided instruction focused on material not yet mas-
tered. (This DTPI model, involving diagnostic testing
followed by prescriptive instruction, is further described
below.) The data showed that all students benefited from
the fast-paced math experience, but those who partici-
pated in 1978 knew more precalculus mathematics prior
to beginning the program, despite having had no formal
training in the subject. This finding, along with positive
correlations between SAT-M score and prior math
knowledge, showed that “students with very high SAT-
M scores are more likely to have acquired, on their own,
a considerable amount of precalculus mathematics
knowledge” (Bartkovich & Mezynski, 1981, p. 77). This
study helped to demonstrate that the above-level SAT-M
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324 Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4
measured meaningful differences among gifted math
students that had implications for their learning.
The practical importance of distinctions among
students of high ability was particularly clearly demon-
strated by Benbow (1992), who used above-level SAT-
M scores to identify students whose mathematical
ability was in the top 1% of students their age (i.e., sev-
enth or eighth grade), and then to compare the long-
term academic achievement of students in the top
0.25% with those of students in the bottom 0.25%. Ten
years after the above-level testing, she compared the
groups on 37 achievement-related variables, many of
which focused on mathematics and science (e.g.,
course taking, honors and awards, test scores, graduate
school attendance, status of graduate programs
attended). On 34 of these variables, significant differ-
ences favored the group that had higher SAT-M scores
at age 12 or 13. These results indicated that it is not
valid to assume that all gifted students have the same
educational needs or future trajectories. Even among
students in the top 1% in ability, the above-level SAT-
M can assess meaningful differences.
Applications to Educational Programs
and Planning
Academic Acceleration
Since SMPY’s first fast-paced mathematics class in
1972, talent searches have focused not only on measur-
ing academic talent, but also on providing for its devel-
opment. George (1979) noted that one of the greatest
benefits of the talent search model is that it “emphasizes
the concept of individual differences” (p. 230) and
leads to educational recommendations designed to
appropriately challenge each individual student.
VanTassel-Baska (1996) also noted the need for pro-
gramming specific to the level of ability of a gifted
student: “The more gifted the student, the greater the
need for intensification of services . . . [and] extension
of services—providing an array of options that are
simultaneously accelerated, enriched, and personal-
ized” (p. 240). The talent searches have focused on
diagnostic testing, followed by prescriptive instruction
(DTPI), to ensure appropriate educational challenge
for gifted youth. In this model, the student first takes an
above-level pretest to assess specifically what material
he or she knows and what still needs to be learned.
Instruction then is focused on what the student does not
know, and a posttest is used to check for mastery after
instruction (Stanley, 1978; see also Lupkowski-Shoplik
et al., 2003).
Such educational accommodations are perhaps best
implemented in school, as children spend the vast
majority of their academic time in a school setting.
There are many potential advantages to implementing
talent-search educational methods in schools, including
academic benefits to gifted students through appropri-
ately challenging course material, financial benefits to
their families (because an appropriate education for their
children would be part of the free, public school sys-
tem), and benefits to schools that result from docu-
mented efforts to provide outstanding educational
programs (McCarthy, 1998). Above-level test scores can
be useful to schools in planning educational interven-
tions for gifted students, which may range from special
classes to subject-matter acceleration to grade skipping
(VanTassel-Baska, 1984). Talent searches have provided
schools with lists of both in-school and out-of-school
opportunities for talented students (e.g., C-MITES,
2004b; TIP, 1985) matched with score ranges on above-
level tests to yield specific suggestions for adolescents
(Olszewski-Kubilius, 1998b; VanTassel-Baska, 1984)
and elementary students (C-MITES, 2004a). Such sug-
gestions are provided to families and schools who send
participants to the talent searches (e.g., C-MITES,
2004a; TIP, 1985).
Barriers to School-Based Implementation
Unfortunately, schools do not always provide appro-
priate programming for gifted students (Swiatek &
Lupkowski-Shoplik, 2005; VanTassel-Baska, 1998) and
rarely use the DTPI model or other accelerative meth-
ods, despite the solid research supporting them
(Colangelo, Assouline, & Gross, 2004; Southern & Jones,
1992; Southern, Jones, & Fiscus, 1989; VanTassel-Baska,
1998). A number of reasons for this resistance have been
suggested. VanTassel-Baska (1998) noted that staff
turnover may result in school positions specific to the
gifted being held by individuals who are not familiar
with talent search testing or educational methods. Given
that teachers and administrators tend to be conservative
in educational planning and to resist avenues that
differ from the norm, and the fact that many fear
acceleration will somehow harm students (Southern
& Jones, 1992; Southern et al., 1989), lack of infor-
mation about the research on talent searches may
greatly reduce openness to special educational
accommodations for students who show extraordi-
nary ability via above-level testing.
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Swiatek / Talent Search Model 325
Even when knowledgeable teachers and/or admin-
istrators are available to help with planning, the time
and effort required to accommodate the educational
needs of gifted students—especially those few, highly
gifted students who often are identified through talent
searches—may appear prohibitive for schools. As
VanTassel-Baska (1998) says, “changing policies and
procedures for a handful of students each year has
never been a popular request” (p. 141). Southern and
Jones (1992) add that the logistics of ensuring appro-
priate credit for work earned and effective planning
for the future also can hinder schools’ implementa-
tion of acceleration. Lack of legislation requiring
schools to identify and meet the needs of gifted
students also may limit special programming for
gifted students, as schools are likely to focus their
limited resources on those populations they are
required by law to serve. At present, no federal law
and few state laws require accommodations for gifted
students (Colangelo et al., 2004).
Talent Search Educational Programs
To address the inadequacies of school programming
for academically gifted youth, talent search programs
offer a variety of extracurricular educational opportuni-
ties for students who earn high scores on above-level
tests. These opportunities include commuter classes
for elementary students (e.g., C-MITES, 2004c),
enrichment-based residential programs on university
campuses, and accelerative classes offered during
the summer (see Mills, Ablard, & Lynch, 1992;
Olszewski-Kubilius, 1989; VanTassel-Baska, 1996) or
on weekends (see VanTassel-Baska, 1984), which can
provide academic credit and/or advanced placement in
students’ home schools. Such programs have been
shown to have both short-term (Fox, 1974) and long-
term (Benbow et al., 1983; Swiatek & Benbow, 1991)
academic benefits for gifted students (Olszewski-
Kubilius, 2003; VanTassel-Baska, Landau, & Olszewski,
1984).
Students in the first SMPY fast-paced math class
were evaluated not only at the end of the class (Fox,
1974), but also 8 years (Benbow et al., 1983) and 18
years (Swiatek & Benbow, 1991) after the class ended.
These longitudinal studies compared students who
completed the fast-paced math class with those who
qualified for the class but chose not to attend. They fur-
ther compared students who worked at a very fast pace
to those who were separated out during the class to
work at a somewhat slower pace. Results indicated that
students who completed the class, especially those who
completed the class at the fastest pace, earned higher
SAT scores in high school, took more advanced mathe-
matics courses and more college courses while in high
school, and were more likely to take AP examinations
in calculus, accelerate their education, enter college
with advanced standing (Benbow et al., 1983), and
enter college young (Benbow et al., 1983; Swiatek &
Benbow, 1991). They also attended more highly ranked
colleges, and the female participants were more likely
to pursue graduate study (Swiatek & Benbow, 1991).
Further, very strong performance in mathematics on
achievement tests in high school (Benbow et al., 1983)
and in educational pursuits through college (Swiatek &
Benbow, 1991) showed that learning math quickly in
junior high did not create gaps in math knowledge.
Subsequent accelerative math classes have further
demonstrated that both elementary students (Mills
et al., 1994; Moore & Wood, 1988) and adolescents
(e.g., Bartkovich & Mezynski, 1981; Mills et al., 1992;
Stocking & Goldstein, 1992) who score well on above-
level mathematics tests are able to learn advanced math
quickly and well. Some of the academic benefits of
these programs, especially those relating to the contin-
uation of math acceleration after program participation,
appear to be particularly strong for girls (Olszewski-
Kubilius, 1998a). Many talent searches also offer
advanced classes in science and the humanities (e.g.,
Holahan & Sawyer, 1986; Lynch, 1992; Olszewski-
Kubilius, Kulieke, Willis, & Krasney, 1989; Stocking &
Goldstein, 1992) and above-level testing procedures
have been shown to be valid for student selection.
Gifted students who take accelerative courses in the
humanities may be even more successful than those
who take classes in math (Stocking & Goldstein, 1992).
Olszewski-Kubilius et al. (1989) categorized fast-
paced classes into two groups based on the method of
instruction used—self-paced or teacher-paced. Gifted
students in self-paced classes move through the curricu-
lum individually, at their own rates; those in teacher-
paced classes work through the curriculum as a group,
at an accelerated rate set by the instructor. Technically,
teacher-paced classes do not follow the DTPI model,
as they do not involve individual testing and instruc-
tional plans that are specific to each student. Although
the pacing in such classes is not individualized, the
high above-level test scores of participants demon-
strate their ability to learn at a fast pace. Research (see
Olszewski-Kubilius, 1998a, for a review) supports
the validity of above-level test scores to select
students for these teacher-paced, accelerated classes
(Lynch, 1992; McCarthy, 1998; Olszewski-Kubilius
et al., 1989), demonstrates that gifted students who
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326 Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4
participate in such classes can learn the material well in
a short time period (Lunny, 1983; Lynch, 1992;
McCarthy, 1998; Olszewski-Kubilius et al., 1989;
Stocking & Goldstein, 1992), and supports the use of
this type of fast-paced class in subjects other than math-
ematics (Lynch, 1992; McCarthy, 1998; Olszewski-
Kubilius et al., 1989; Stocking & Goldstein, 1992;
VanTassel-Baska, 1983). The group orientation of these
classes is more similar to the teaching methods used in
traditional classrooms than is the individual orientation
of self-paced courses, and therefore this method of pro-
viding curriculum at a fast pace may lend itself particu-
larly well to use in a school setting. It also may be
particularly beneficial in a school setting, where even
students who are grade skipped often find the pace of
typical classes too slow (Vaille, Ashton, Carlon, &
Rankin, 2001).
The effective learning of advanced material is a ben-
efit in itself, as it helps to meet the academic needs of
gifted students and to prepare them for competition on
the world stage. Beyond this benefit, however, are those
deriving from the prevention of academic problems.
Rimm (2003) cites research indicating that lack of flex-
ibility in the curriculum and lack of challenge in school
are risk factors for underachievement. Programs provid-
ing increased challenge to gifted students can help
reverse underachievement patterns. Accelerative strate-
gies can be used to provide this challenge (Rimm &
Lovance, 1992); enrichment classes that allow gifted
students to explore topics in depth also have been shown
to promote academic motivation (Enersen, 1993).
Grouping gifted students together for educational
programs, as the talent searches do, not only facilitates
high-level academic achievement, but also provides cru-
cial social benefits to participants (Olszewski-Kubilius,
1989). Students who have been given the opportunity to
interact with true peers—“others who are similar in abil-
ity, interests, and age” (Enersen, 1993, p. 170)—report
changes in their social relationships and self-perceptions
as a result. In Enersen’s (1993) study, students noted that
the acceptance and sense of being understood they expe-
rienced in such programs helped them to recognize and
accept themselves and their abilities, to feel powerful
and competent, and to develop fulfilling social relation-
ships. Friendships were found to be the number one rea-
son why participants in one summer program wanted to
return in subsequent summers (Holahan & Brounstein,
as cited in Holahan & Sawyer, 1986). Similarly,
VanTassel-Baska et al. (1984) found that parents of
students in Northwestern University’s summer residen-
tial program, surveyed 6 months after program comple-
tion, listed social interaction with similar peers most
frequently when asked about the benefits of the program
for their children. For the small number of students who
experience psychosocial difficulties during the course of
a special educational program, talent search programs
can provide counseling services that give students
access to professionals who understand the special
needs of gifted individuals (Holahan & Sawyer, 1986).
Future Directions
Despite the great success of talent searches, some
problems remain. Perhaps the most pressing is the need
to expand student access to talent search methods,
either through independent talent search programs or
through their schools. Independent talent searches tend
to reach primarily middle- and upper-income families
(Olszewski-Kubilius, 2004; VanTassel-Baska & Willis,
1987). The talent searches have established scholarship
programs to enable children to participate even when
families cannot afford to pay fees (see Web sites in
Table 1), and some have designed recruitment efforts
specifically to reach minority and low-income students
(personal communication, C-MITES staff, October 27,
2004), but the need to ensure equity of access remains.
The necessity of more effectively promoting
appropriate educational accommodations for high-
scoring students in the school setting is effectively
expressed by VanTassel-Baska (1998):
160,000 students are tested each year through talent
searches and receive only written information about
their scores and what they mean. Of the 40,000 who do
qualify for [educational] programs [sponsored by the
talent searches], only 8,000 actually participate
directly. If a local program screened and identified
students in such a manner and then denied service to
such a large number of them, it would cease to exist.
For talent searches to do this, without a mechanism to
follow up, in schools where services should be pro-
vided free of charge is a cause for concern. (p. 140)
When students do complete accelerated work
though a talent search educational program, they
often do not receive school credit for that work. Even
the CTD at Northwestern University, which is accred-
ited by the North Central Association of Colleges and
Schools (Olszewski-Kubilius, 1989), has reported
that only approximately one half of the students who
do outstanding work in accelerative summer program
classes receive appropriate placement and/or course
credit in their schools (Olszewski-Kubilius, 1989;
VanTassel-Baska, 1998). Further, elementary schools
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are unlikely to consider the implications of high above-
level test scores when planning for gifted students
(Swiatek & Lupkowski-Shoplik, 2003, 2005).
Van Tassel-Baska (1998) suggested several cre-
ative approaches that talent searches can take to facil-
itate appropriate in-school educational programming,
including partnerships with existing programs (e.g.,
AP, International Baccalaureate), close working rela-
tionships with selected schools, distribution of the
curricula from talent search summer programs for use
in schools, and a greater focus on training educators
and administrators in talent search methods.
Although such steps by talent searches may help, it is
school personnel who are most critical in implement-
ing talent search methods in their schools. For those
interested in developing a program based on these
methods, several points are important to remember:
Students need not be identified as gifted to participate
in accelerative educational opportunities based on tal-
ent search methods (see Assouline & Lupkowski-
Shoplik, 2003). A student with strong reasoning
abilities in one subject area can succeed even if he or
she does not meet global criteria employed by the
school to identify “giftedness.” The purpose of the tal-
ent search method is to match the content and pace of
a particular course to the needs of students who have
strong ability in that subject area.
Talent search educational methods need not be
expensive to implement (Stanley, 1976). Schools can
obtain above-level testing through external talent
search programs, but they can also use tests they
already have available, as long as they are designed
for students at least two grade levels higher than that
of the student being considered for special program-
ming (Assouline & Lupkowski-Shoplik, 2003).
Existing resources (e.g., gifted teachers, advanced
courses already offered by the school) can be used for
instruction; curricula need not be extensively altered,
only utilized flexibly enough to meet the needs of
gifted students (Benbow & Stanley, 1983; TIP, 1985).
Costs can be shared among schools, parents, grants/
contributions, and (when relevant) local colleges/
universities (McCarthy, 1998).
Fast-paced classes can be offered across a school dis-
trict or in a general geographical area instead of in a
specific school (see, for example, Lunny, 1983;
McCarthy, 1998; Moore & Wood, 1988; VanTassel-
Baska, 1983). Involving students across schools can
distribute the time and effort required to run the course
(recruiting, screening, teaching, evaluating) among a
larger number of professionals and can yield larger
classes that may be seen as better justifying the time
and effort so invested. A centralized location that is
separate from the school district can help reduce
“political problems inherent in a district’s association
with gifted programs” (McCarthy, 1998, p. 119).
If a district cannot provide fast-paced instruction
or cannot provide instruction at the level required,
online programs are available that allow students
to move at their own pace (see, for example, CTY,
n.d.b; Education Program for Gifted Youth, n.d.).
Teacher pacing is an effective way to provide
a fast pace for a group of qualified students (Lunny,
1983; Lynch, 1992; McCarthy, 1998; Olszewski-
Kubilius et al., 1989; Stocking & Goldstein, 1992;
VanTassel-Baska, 1983) and may be easier to
implement than individually paced classes (see
McCarthy, 1998).
Student success can gain support for the talent search
model in a cumulative fashion. McCarthy (1998)
reported that the documented success of students in a
district-wide program, based on the talent search
model, was key in earning “converts” among skeptics
and spreading the model to other districts.
The lack of connection between talent search pro-
grams and schools does a disservice to both. Over more
than three decades, talent searches have spread through-
out the United States and several foreign countries,
using well-established tests to provide a meaningful
assessment of gifted students’ knowledge, reasoning
ability, and potential for accelerated learning (Gilheany,
2001; Tourón, 2001; see also Lupkowski-Shoplik et al.,
2003). Talent search educational programs, often on col-
lege campuses, provide appropriate academic challenge
and much-needed social interaction with like-minded
peers (Benbow et al., 1983; Enersen, 1993; Fox, 1974;
Mills et al., 1992; Olszewski-Kubilius, 1989, 2003;
Swiatek & Benbow, 1991; VanTassel-Baska, 1996;
VanTassel-Baska et al., 1984). Through the DTPI
model, instruction can be tailored to the needs of indi-
viduals, either in school or through special programs
(Stanley, 1978; see also Lupkowski-Shoplik et al.,
2003). Above-level tests also can effectively be used to
select students for teacher-paced, accelerative classes
that can be offered to a group of students in a more tra-
ditional classroom format (Lunny, 1983; Lynch, 1992;
Olszewski-Kubilius et al., 1989; Stocking & Goldstein,
1992). Both students and their parents have evaluated
the talent search experience positively (Jarosewich &
Stocking, 2003; Swiatek & Lupkowski-Shoplik, 2005).
The studies on which these conclusions are based are
well designed, and the positive conclusions they yield
are remarkably consistent. Thus, talent searches are
considered by experts to be best practice within the
field of gifted education. Use of talent search principles
Swiatek / Talent Search Model 327
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328 Gifted Child Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4
of identification and education in the school setting
would enhance the education of even more students than
the hundreds of thousands already documented in the
impressive record of the regional talent searches.
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Mary Ann Swiatek received her PhD in Counseling Psychology
from Iowa State University, where she was a Research Associate
with the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), under
the direction of Drs. Camilla Benbow and David Lubinski. She has
worked as a Research Specialist with the Carnegie Mellon Institute
for Talented Elementary and Secondary Students (C-MITES) and
continues to serve as a Research Consultant for that organization.
She is a member of the Executive Board of the Pennsylvania
Association for Gifted Education (PAGE) and travels throughout
Pennsylvania to provide information about the academic and psy-
chosocial needs of gifted students to the parents, teachers, and
administrators who are responsible for their education.
by Mary Schmidt on November 30, 2009 http://gcq.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... Yetenek tarama modeli; VanTassel-Baska, 1984; Döner kapı tanılama modeli; Renzulli, Reis & Smith, 1981; Münih tanılama modeli; Heller, 2004), bölgeye ya da eğitim alanına göre değişebildiğinden (Govan, 2012), BDB ÖZELLİKLER, ETKEN FAKTÖRLER VE MÜDAHALE ÖZEL EĞİTİM DERGİSİ yaşayan üstün zekâlı bireylerin oranı hakkında da fikir birliği bulunmamaktadır (Matthews & McBee, 2007). Yine de, tanılama yönemi (psikometrik yaklaşım temelli veya çoklu kriter yaklaşımı temelli) akademik başarı farklılığı yaratmasa da (Perez-Studdard, 2010) -çoğu Batı kültürü kaynaklıaraştırma sonuçları, üstün zekâlıların %15'den %50'ye kadar bir oranının BDB'li olduğunu göstermektedir (Abu-Hamour & Al-Hmouz, 2013;Bennett-Rappel & Northcode, 2016;Carr, Borkowski & Maxwell, 1991;Kim, 2008;Seeley, 1993;Veas, Gilar, Miñano & Castejon, 2016). ...
... Hem üstün zekâlılığın (Heller, 2004;Renzulli vd., 1981;VanTassel-Baska, 1984) hem de akademik başarının tanımlanmasında bir görüş birliği bulunmadığından; üstün zekâlılarda BDB'nin nedenleri, etkenleri, özellikleri veya geriye çevrilmesi üzerine yapılan çalışmaların da netlikten uzak olduğu söylenebilir. BDB hakkındaki tanımlamaların bazıları BDB gösterilen süreye (durumsal-kronik; Clark, 1992) okuldaki performansa (Butler-Por, 1987), potansiyele ya da gerçek yeteneğe (Dowdall & Colangelo, 1982;Whitmore, 1980); bazıları ise zekâ testleri ya da akademik başarı testleri temel alınarak yapılan kavramsal veya operasyonel açıklamalara (Ziegler vd., 2012) odaklanmaktadır. ...
... There are also differences in giftedness theories (e.g., Sternberg & Zhang, 1995;Tannenbaum, 1986), methods, national or regional criteria (Sarouphim, 2009). Moreover, a variety of models exists in the identification of gifted students including "Talent research model" (VanTassel-Baska, 1984), "Revolving door identification model" (Renzulli, Reis, & Smith, 1981), or "Munich model of identification" (Heller, 2004), may vary by region or by educational area (Govan, 2012). Therefore, there is no clear indication of what percentage of the society is gifted (Matthews & McBee, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
Underachievement is commonly defined as the gap between the expected and observed performance. The aim of this study was to examine the definitions, characteristics, criteria, and intervention of underachievement among gifted studentsthrough an extensive literature review. The study covered multiple databases. The main factors that were reported to affect underachievement among gifted students were classified into household-related, personal, and school-related. The methods such as mentoring, family counseling, and teacher support came to the forefront among various underachievement interventions. It was suggested that a more holistic assessment method that would use multiple data points and intervention programs in dealing with underachievement among gifted students needed to be developed.
... There are many potential advantages to implementing talent-search educational methods in schools, including academic benefits to gifted students through appropriately challenging course material, financial benefits to their families (because an appropriate education for their children would be part of the free, public school system), and benefits to schools that result from documented efforts to provide outstanding educational programs (McCarthy, 1998). Above-level test scores can be useful to schools in planning educational interventions for gifted students, which may range from special classes to subject-matter acceleration to grade skipping (VanTassel-Baska, 1984). Talent searches have provided schools with lists of both in-school and out-of-school opportunities for talented students (e.g., C-MITES, 2004b;TIP, 1985) matched with score ranges on abovelevel tests to yield specific suggestions for adolescents (Olszewski-Kubilius, 1998b;VanTassel-Baska, 1984) and elementary students (C-MITES, 2004a). ...
... Above-level test scores can be useful to schools in planning educational interventions for gifted students, which may range from special classes to subject-matter acceleration to grade skipping (VanTassel-Baska, 1984). Talent searches have provided schools with lists of both in-school and out-of-school opportunities for talented students (e.g., C-MITES, 2004b;TIP, 1985) matched with score ranges on abovelevel tests to yield specific suggestions for adolescents (Olszewski-Kubilius, 1998b;VanTassel-Baska, 1984) and elementary students (C-MITES, 2004a). Such suggestions are provided to families and schools who send participants to the talent searches (e.g., C-MITES, 2004a;TIP, 1985). ...
... To address the inadequacies of school programming for academically gifted youth, talent search programs offer a variety of extracurricular educational opportunities for students who earn high scores on above-level tests. These opportunities include commuter classes for elementary students (e.g., C-MITES, 2004c), enrichment-based residential programs on university campuses, and accelerative classes offered during the summer (see Mills, Ablard, & Lynch, 1992;Olszewski-Kubilius, 1989;VanTassel-Baska, 1996) or on weekends (see VanTassel-Baska, 1984), which can provide academic credit and/or advanced placement in students' home schools. Such programs have been shown to have both short-term (Fox, 1974) and longterm Swiatek & Benbow, 1991) academic benefits for gifted students (Olszewski-Kubilius, 2003;VanTassel-Baska, Landau, & Olszewski, 1984). ...
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Typical standardized achievement tests cannot provide accurate information about gifted students' abilities because they are not challenging enough for such students. Talent searches solve this problem through above-level testing—using tests designed for older students to raise the ceiling for younger, gifted students. Currently, talent search programs serve gifted students from grades 2 through 8 throughout the mainland United States and in several foreign countries. Extensive research demonstrates that above-level test scores differentiate among levels of giftedness and have important implications for educational planning. Students with high scores learn advanced material rapidly and well and thrive in accelerated learning settings. Therefore, talent searches have followed up on testing with educational programs, many of which focus on acceleration. Decades of research have documented both academic and psychosocial benefits to participants. Perhaps the greatest challenge ahead of the talent searches is that of facilitating the appropriate education of gifted students in the school setting.
... Research has indicated that there are several methods and instruments to use in gifted and talented identification. Some of these methods are intelligence tests (e.g., Carman & Taylor, 2010;Johnsen & Corn, 2001;Lewis, DeCamp-Fritson, Ramage, McFarland, & Archwamety, 2007;Lohman, Korb, & Lakin, 2008;Mills & Ablard, 1993;Naglieri & Ford, 2003), academic achievement and aptitude tests (e.g., Keating, 1976;Lewis et al., 2007;Lohman, 2005;Lupkowski-Shoplik & Assouline, 1993;Mills & Barnett, 1992;Mills & Tissot, 1995;Niederer, Irwin, Irwin, & Reilly, 2003;Stanley, 1954Stanley, , 1977VanTassel-Baska, 1984, teacher nomination forms (e.g., Hodge & Kemp, 2006;McBee, 2006;Peters & Gentry, 2010;Pfeiffer & Petscher, 2008), and peer nomination forms (Gagné, Begin, & Talbot, 1993;Renzulli, 1990). ...
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Research has indicated that there are several methods and instruments to use in gifted and talented identification. Among them are peer nomination forms usually used to screen students. Students are asked to evaluate their classmates' behaviour based upon interactions and observations within classes. In a previous study conducted by the first author, a paperbased peer nomination form was developed and investigated to determine to what extent the peer nomination form could be used for the identification of high ability students. The current study was conducted to build on the promising results of the previous study. The main aim of the current study was to design a computer-based tool by enriching the content of the paper-based form with visual elements. The tool aimed to enrich the traditional paper-based peer nomination form by using advanced design and programming techniques. The proposed computer-based form is a new approach to screen and identify potential gifted and talented children. It has many advantages, including financial and technical. Screening some students before administering intelligence tests would also be helpful because intelligence tests require experienced persons to administer.
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The subject of giftedness continues to elicit ambivalence, amid perceptions of elitism associated with the idea of categorizing groups of people as ‘gifted.’ This paper dispenses with any euphemism in arguing that giftedness is not correlated with an IQ test score, but is rather a phenomenon that presents very real social, emotional and personal challenges that could lead children and youth into a pathway of destruction and self-sabotage – unless educators are ready to step up to the task of helping them channel their potential effectively. The new media tools, that are seen to offer young people the leeway to reshape perceptions of their current reality, provide a practical perspective on how creative learning can take place in collaborative spaces and generate insights into the life worlds of young people, who are particularly vulnerable to self-sabotage. The paper also explores the integration of new media applications with educational curricula in mainstream school settings. Keywords: Creative learning, new media, creativity, giftedness, gifted education, digital media, social media, ICT.
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In this article, an overview of topics solved in the contemporary research on giftedness is presented. A selection of important theories of giftedness and the theory of deliberate practice are introduced, the significance and the origin of abilities, threshold level of giftedness and other factors are discussed. At the end, methods used in education of gifted and some examples of special educational programs are mentioned.
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Many gifted education experts have found that Black, Hispanic, and Native American students are less likely to be identified for gifted programs than Asian American and White students. A study was conducted to ascertain the degree of underrepresentation of these groups in gifted programs in Utah. Using state-collected data from 14,781 students in six representative school districts in Utah, it was found through multiple logistic regression analysis that there was no statistically significant difference in the likelihoods that Black, Hispanic, or Native American students and White students would be identified as gifted; Asian American and Pacific Islander students were more likely to be identified as gifted than White students. After controlling for academic achievement and SES, it was found that all diverse demographic groups of students were more likely to be identified as gifted than White students, although the differences did not reach statistical significance for multiracial or Native American students. Further research into the nature and causes of disproportionate representation in gifted programs is suggested.
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Current conceptions of giftedness and intelligence are reviewed and a conception of giftedness as an interaction of intelligence, special abilities or talents, self concept and resultant motivation to achieve is presented. An important distinction is made between those traits which can be identified in young children and those behaviors which should serve as the goals or outcomes of a program for gifted students. The authors conclude that motivation, self concept, and creativity should not serve as components of an identification scheme, but instead should be major goals of gifted programs.
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Categories of giftedness derived from the influential Marland Report (1972) include students who are gifted in the visual and performing arts. The research reported here describes development, testing, and use of a new instrument, Clark's Drawing Abilities Test, and its success in screening and/or identifying students for a visual arts program for artistically gifted students. The test was admmistered along with the Childrdn's Embedded Figures Test, and the results of both measures subsequently were compared to teacher ratings of students. Significant correlations were obtained among these three measures. Analyses of validity are reported here. Reliability is also reported as expressed in high correlatons among test items.
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In this study, we shall briefly cover some of the relevant aspects of the process of the School College Ability Test (SCAT) validation in Navarra, Spain, paying special attention to certain methodological questions of interest. The paper will begin by describing the tests to be validated and the methodology that has been followed during the process. Having established these points, we will present the results obtained, with the goal of establishing the norms of these tests to be used in Spain for the detection of verbally and mathematically talented pupils, applying the model developed for the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) in 1971. Since 1979, the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Johns Hopkins University has continued using this model in Talent Searches, and other universities have adopted it as well, with history and results published in numerous studies (Benbow, SCAT Description The School and College Ability Tests (SCAT) Series III represent a revision of the initial SCAT Series II, originally normalized and standardized in 1966 and reviewed in 1970. These tests were further developed in 1980 by the Educational Testing Service and now belong to CTY. The SCAT measures verbal and quantitative abilities of students in grades 3-12. The tests are useful in comparing students or classes, comparing performance on the verbal and quantitative sections, estimating growth in abilities over time, and predicting success in related achievement areas. The SCAT measures the accumulation of learning rather than achievement (CTY, 1996, 1999; ETS, 1972). The tests exist in two forms (X and Y) with three levels of difficulty: Elementary (third to fifth grades), Intermediate (sixth grade of primary education and first and second grades of secondary education) and Advanced (third and fourth grades of secondary education, and first and second grades prior to University entrance, equivalent to grades eleven and twelve in the American educational system).
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This paper describes the results of a national survey of identification practices in the field of gifted and talented education. The survey was conducted by the Educational Improvement Center-South under a contract from the U.S. Office of the Gifted and Talented. Teachers of the gifted, university professors, state consultants, and others were queried as to what constitutes the most frequently and effectively used tests/instruments/techniques in the identification process vis-à-vis the categories of the federal definition and certain subpopulations. Survey data is analyzed for existent and recurrent patterns and trends. Among the findings disclosed are abuses of standardized testing and other inappropriate practices, apparent confusion over the definition of giftedness, and Jack of understanding regarding what should and should not be used for identification under each category.
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The Center for the Advancement of Academically Talented Youth (CTY) at the Johns Hopkins University sponsors a class for exceptionally mathematically able elementary students in the Richmond, Virginia area. The class, with texts, chalk and board, paper and pencil the only tools, operates with less than fifty hours of annual instructional time. This article describes the first two years of the Richmond Young Students Mathematics Class (RYSM Class), including student selection and progress, methodology, curriculum, staffing, and reactions of students and parents to this ongoing program.
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Acceleration, including early entrance to kindergarten, grade skipping, and subject skipping, has been used as a strategy to prevent and reverse underachievement in a selected group of gifted students. Fourteen sets of parents and 11 students were interviewed to determine their perceptions of the effectiveness of the acceleration strategy. All the parents and all the students indicated they would make the same decision again. Only two of the school administrators and six of the receiving teachers were initially positive about the skipping, but most of them changed their positions with the child's success, at least in regard to the specific accelerated child. There appeared to be a period (between one quarter and a semester) during which teachers expressed concern over the students' adjustment, but students did not perceive themselves as having adjustment difficulties.