How Can I Fight for a Gifted Child?

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We have a child who excels above her classmates and should be a grade/grade & a half above her peers.  The school is refusing to adjust her challenges. She is doing work she already knows how to do, finishes before others, aces all her tests. She is 7 and reads at a 10 year old level. Can you point me in the right direction?

In a few states, gifted children may eligible for services under the IDEA – but not in most states.

Check Gifted by State.  You’ll find an interactive map you can use to find your state’s gifted education policies.

The No Child Left Behind Act defines “Gifted & Talented” students as  those…”who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.” 20 U.S.C. Section 7801(22). (Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind, Title IX, Part A, (22). p. 526)

We built a page of resources and information about “twice exceptional” children – kids who are gifted but also have a disability. Look at this page – you may find help:

In most cases, gifted kids sit in classes, bored and frustrated, with no educational services to meet their needs. You need to locate and provide enrichment activities for the kids.

What would you do if you lived in a time before public schools were created? Parents (and grandparents) were  responsible for educating their children. Under that scenario, you educated the child at home or sent the child to a private school. If you can supplement the school’s program with enrichment activities, that may help.

Studies conducted during the last few decades have demonstrated both the need for and the benefits of gifted education programs. Although we developed a page for information about twice exceptional children, check the resources on that page for information about gifted education and the research that says gifted education works.

  1. If your child has a gifted IEP in Pennsylvania, does the teacher need to provide progress reports on the gifted goal?

  2. My son was identified as Gifted in Kindergarten at the age of 6, when we lived in Pennsylvania. We took the WICS-IV test and scored well above the criteria for gifted. Later we moved to Utah and he was taken directly into their gifted program with all the information from Pennsylvania. We still requested testing and took the CogAT, and Iowa assessments. He still scored well above Utah criteria for gifted. We have sinced moved to Wyoming (now in 6th grade) and they are telling me they won’t accept the testing from Pennsylvania, nor Utah. We took him to take their test, the CogAT screener, and he bombed it. Wyoming is telling me he doesn’t qualify for gifted based on a 30 minute timed “screener” (which he did not complete) even with all these other tests and scores. Can I appeal? If so, how

  3. My child is 4? She excels and comprehensive language skills, she tested above her age for many things like her vocabulary. They told me IEP”s were for those with deficits only. I can’t believe that is true is it?

  4. We live in a state that has no policy on grade acceleration. After our daughter has been being considered and doing testing to possibly be grade accelerated we are told she’s disqualified soley due to her having a sister in the grade she would skip to although there are 4 or 5 class rooms so they could still be in separate classes with different teachers. Any suggestions on where to go from here?

  5. My son is valedictorian and in the top 10% yet the public high school refuses a rank or percentile. We have gone to TEA and TEA agreed with us and the school still refuses to comply. Any suggestions

  6. My second grade daughter received her STAR results and was 99 percentile in math and reading. Meanwhile she received her standards based report card and has all 2’s but one in academic areas. The key says a 2 is progressing towards standards -Standard Not MET. The teachers explained to me they can not award a 3 until toward the end of the year as all expected levels have not been taught. Sorry, but I do not even understand calling it a two because it has not been taught, has not been assessed, and the child has not demonstrated mastery to that individual teacher for at least 6 weeks as yet! The reality is- your child can score at the 99 percentile on Star test and still get a report card that says the child is not meeting standards. Report cards are no longer a useful tool in monitoring a child’s progress.

    • And if one thinks that a child, even at a tender age, does not realize the report does not reflect their mastery, it is an incorrect assessment. Boring children causes them to disengage in the process. Year after year of unchallenging schooling is harmful. They never learn to work hard. They feel “different”. And we are all deprived of the contribution these kids could make.

  7. We need to act in order to change this legislation. Gifted kids have unique educational needs, and that should qualify them for IEPs. I have petitioned my state (Maryland) Department of Education. I would really appreciate if you could sign to support it:

    I’d also encourage you to be an advocate for change in your own state. We are the greatest supporters of our children… So if we won’t fight for them, who will??

  8. Just a suggestion: There are so many unemployed teachers out there. Maybe in some situations, parents can hire a tutor for after school challenges! Or the tutor could collaborate with the classroom teacher, taking the lesson plans and altering them for the gifted child. Of course not everyone can afford that. If parents lived in a state that required schools to provide it, parents might be able to make a case for the district to pay a tutor.

  9. I held my daughter back a year because of social issues. In her first year of school, I noticed she was bored. I talked to the school about advancing her but decided against it. This year, in first grade, she had many social issues (shy), but was still very bored. They school and I spoke and they started to advance her by subject to the second grade. This was her first solid week as a second grader! As far as the social issues, they will always be there, but her confidence has grown leaps and bounds in 2 short months. The teachers are using terms like “a whole different child.” I am so blessed to have the school I have (Virginia) but believe me, you have to advocate for the child to get what they need. It has been a long road. Fight as hard as you can for your child. You know him best.

  10. Homeschooling should not be suggested for gifted children any more or less than it should be suggested for kids with other needs (LD, Autism, etc.). That’s right–giftedness is a need, not a pleasant bonus. Our country provides public education for all kids. Schools should educate all students at their level of achievement or provide funding for them to be educated elsewhere.

  11. Our school district requires a score of a 99th percentile on both reading and math standardized tests. My daughter’s scores: 99th percentile – reading and between the 94th and 98th percentile – math. They gave her the COGAT test and she scored an 87% and she needed a 95%. The standardized tests were taken again in January and she got a 99th percentile on reading and between the 98th and 99th percentiles in math. Still won’t qualify. She is bored out of her mind!

    Even if she got in the gifted program it is a pull-out once a week for an hour. It is nowhere near enough. I am now volunteering twice a week for an hour to pull her and her best friend (who qualified for the gifted program) to do accelerated math, working on the same topic the class is working on but in more depth. VERY frustrating as they both need much more…

    • We had given up on qualifying for the gifted program in our school. has been our saving grace!

  12. My son, who had been receiving services under the Autism Scholarship in Ohio, has been denied an IEP because his latest evaluation did not yield the required 2 standard deviations in any area and indicated that he is “very superior” in IQ and achievement scores. His adaptive scores were “average”. I believe that his high achievement is due to the supports he has been receiving outside of school through the scholarship. He is doing well in school, even as he is still working on social-emotional development. In my opinion, he is entitled to an IEP due to his diagnosis so that he can continue to excel academically. We have disagreed with the district’s decision and need t write a letter. I have found resources such as the “letter to Lillie/Felton” but my son’s scores do not show a specific learning disability. His weaknesses are social.

    • I have the same problem my son is so shy that he doesn’t ask questions but bored to death with lectures. He got all A’s in his grade in some other subject but there is a particular teacher who thinks he is not that smart. So he gave him C. He is identified as GATE but was not tested for emotional issues. Now he is in 10th grade and his social skill is very bad. I wished I did not listen to those elementary teachers that he is fine but as a mother, I know something is wrong with him socially. He doesn’t like to be a hug, he avoids eye contact and doesn’t want to have a good conversation with us.

  13. Susan’s response was good. Homeschooling is a great option for gifted children. It is not a last resort at all. It is increasingly where gifted students are choosing to be, and for good reason.

    Homeschooling does not mean that the parents provide all of the academics, nor does it mean isolation from other children. Homeschooling does mean a very personalized education with virtually no ceiling.

    Gifted children by definition are asynchronous in their development and will need more than a few hours of a extra accommodation. Gifted students can range all over the charts with abilities.

    Homeschooling gives the family unlimited choices in making a personalized educational fit for your student. There are literally thousands of ways to homeschool. Many public schools offer charters to guide parents all the way.

  14. Wow! A lot of misinformation here. First, some schools do a good job at gifted. Homeschooling is great, and I support it, but it is not the only option.

    Secondly, grade skipping helps kids acadmically AND socially. If you want to help your gifted kid socially, for the majority of them, grade skipping HELPS not hurts. Read

    For gifted issues in PA, check out

    For gifted overall, check

    Remember that this is serious – failure to challenge gifted kids is harmful – google the Marland report – the US Govt declared this in 1971! Read The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children.

    Good luck, be persistent, and treat it just like other special ed advoacty.

  15. We are in the same boat with my son, and have an IEP meeting on Wednesday. We are lucky enough to live in PA, and gifted programming is mandated, so he gets a 90 min pull out program once a week. It is not enough. Each day, he flies through his homework (from the regular first grade class), then we teach him 10 minutes of math, and 10 minutes of communication arts from third grade textbooks that we bought at an education store. The idea is that he should spend SOME time learning things he doesn’t already know, and occasionally get a little dose of frustration. This feels like the best we can do for now. Maybe we will make progress with the school this week, but aren’t holding our breath. The book, Developing Math Talent, by Assouline and Lupkowski-Shoplik has been an invaluable guide in understanding gifted education and advocacy.

  16. My daughter’s birthday falls at around the cut off for her to have started school a year earlier than she actually started.

    We have had the option to have her skip a grade as early as elementary school. Weighing the pros and cons, we opted for her social development and felt that the only grade we are in favor of her skipping is maybe tenth. She is an eighth grader now and is a Duke T.I.P. scholar.

    If you are interested in virtual school programs, we did use Florida Virtual School for my son for middle school (different circumstances) and are VERY pleased with the results. Great foundation!

    He is now a HS senior, making A’s in college prep classes.

    Good luck to your daughter’s success story.

  17. Homeschool. Honestly, that is the only way your gifted child is going to be challenged to his/her potential. The schools will not do it.
    Homeschooling is best for all kids, but especially for the gifted student.

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