Glossary of Terms for Gifted

AAGT (Arizona Association for the Gifted and Talented)

State-wide nonprofit organization devoted to improving gifted education in Arizona and dedicated to providing information and guidance necessary for parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and legislators to develop and support gifted education in our state. AAGT offers an annual conference, including programs for parents. The AAGT website offers excellent information for parents and is affiliated with NAGC.

Advanced Placement (AP)

A program developed by the College Board where high schools offer courses that meet criteria established by institutions of higher education.  In many instances, college credit may be earned with the successful completion of an AP exam in specific content areas.


A term used to describe disparate rates of intellectual, emotional, and physical rates of growth or development often displayed by gifted children. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, the taxonomy is often used to develop curriculum for gifted children. There are six levels within the taxonomy that move from basic to high levels of thinking. These include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Ceiling Effect

The compression of top scores on a test. For example, if a group IQ test can only measure reliably to 130, then a student with an IQ of 160 (if measured by some other test) may only score 130 due to the ceiling effect of the group test. Group intelligence tests often have low ceilings, so a relatively low IQ score, perhaps 115, could be accepted as evidence of potential giftedness.

Cluster Grouping

A grouping assignment for gifted students in the regular heterogeneous classroom.  Typically, five or six gifted students with similar needs, abilities, or interests are “clustered” in the same classroom, which allows the teacher to more effectively differentiate assignments for a group of advanced learners rather than just one or two students.


Instruction entails reduced amounts of introductory activities, drill, and practice. Instructional experiences may also be based on relatively fewer instructional objectives compared to the general curriculum. The time gained may be used for more advanced content instruction or to participate in enrichment activities. Instructional goals should be selected on the basis of careful analyses for their roles in the content and hierarchies of curricula. The parsing of activities and goals should be based on a pre-instructional assessment.  (Definition from A Nation Deceived, volume 2, page 14.)

Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities

Research by Dabrowski showing how gifted individuals were extremely sensitive in five areas (a stimulus-response difference from the norms) such that a gifted person reacts more strongly than normal, for a longer period than normal, to a stimulus that may be very small. It involves not just psychological factors but central nervous system sensitivity.  The five areas are:

  • Psychomotor (the person needs lots of movement and athletic activity, or has trouble smoothing out the mind's activities for sleeping, and has lots of physical energy and movement, fast-talking, lots of gestures, sometimes nervous tics);
  • Sensual (the "cut the label out of the shirt" demand, a love for sensory things – textures, smells, tastes etc. or a powerful reaction to negative sensory input such as bad smells, loud sounds, etc., aesthetic awareness – awed to breathlessness at the sight of a beautiful sunset or cries hearing Mozart, etc.);
  • Imaginational (person is a daydreamer, strong visual thinker, reacts strongly to dreams);
  • Intellectual (person with strong academics, logical thinking, complex reasoning, good at cognitive games);
  • Emotional (intensity of emotion, a broad range of emotions, need for deep connections with other people or animals, inventing imaginary friends, deep empathy and compassion, susceptibility to depression). Highly gifted people tend to have all 5, but different people lead with different OE's (e.g. engineer leads with Intellectual, poets with Emotional and Imaginational, etc.). Variations in the levels of the individual OE's explain a great deal about temperamental differences.  These five OE’s describe the unusual intensity of the gifted as well as the many ways in which they look and behave "oddly" when compared to norms. (From Stephanie Tolan’s definition of OE’s) To read more about Dabrowski's Overexcitibillities, please visit Hoagie's Gifted Website on this topic. 


Modifying curriculum and instruction according to content, pacing, and/or product to meet unique student needs in the classroom.

Distance Learning

High-tech alternative to correspondence courses, these classes are offered via satellite or internet.   For a list of programs and search options, you can visit Hoagie's Gifted Website.


 (Davidson Institute for Talent Development): Offers a Young Scholars Program; you can learn more about at the DITD website

Dual Enrollment

Enrollment in two levels of schooling simultaneously; application of credits varies.  Commonly used for high school students who concurrently take college courses, for at least high school credit.

Early Entrance

Entrance to any program before the regularly scheduled time.  This may be entrance to Kindergarten at age 4 or 4.5, 1st grade at regular kindergarten age 5, or entrance to any other school level or college early. See A Nation Deceived for a discussion of the benefits.


(Educational Program for Gifted Youth): Distance learning K-8 and advanced math program, developed by Stanford.  This program is currently available through Stanford, and through Johns Hopkins as a part of its Math Tutorials program.

Flexible Grouping

An instructional strategy where students are grouped together to receive appropriately challenging instruction.  True flexible grouping permits students to move in and out of various grouping patterns, depending on the course content. Grouping can be determined by ability, size, and/or interest.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Program

A demanding pre-university program that students can complete to earn college credit. IB emphasizes critical thinking and understanding of other cultures or points of view. A diploma is awarded at the completion of the IB program which allows graduates access to universities worldwide. 

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

A numerical representation of intelligence. IQ is derived from dividing mental age (result from an intelligence test) by the chronological age times 100. Traditionally, an average IQ is considered to be 100.


(National Association for Gifted Children): National nonprofit organization addressing the unique needs of children and youth with demonstrated gifts and talents as well as those children who may be able to develop their talent potential with appropriate educational experiences.  The NAGC website provides excellent information for parents of gifted.

Percentile Rank

Percentiles are not the same as percent correct! Percentile is an age-based or grade-based rank indicating the percent of the norm group of students tested who scored less than the student. 85th percentile means only that 85 percent of students tested scored lower than the subject, not that the subject got 85% of the questions correct. Percentile scores are easily correlated to standard or IQ scores: 97th percentile is the same as standard or IQ score of 130 or above. For large populations, percentiles are an easy way to compare one child to age/grade peers.

**Note: a side effect of percentile scoring is that as more and more of the population that is being tested answer all the questions correctly on the test or any sub-test, the lower their percentile scores will become. This is particularly obvious in a small population sample such as the local percentiles, which may compare your child only to others in the same school and grade.  (For complete information on testing terminology and assessment, go to Hoagie's Gifted Website and read “What Do the Tests Tell Us?”


The desire to execute tasks flawlessly. Gifted children may develop perfectionism after entering school, as they perform better than their classmates. Later, such perfectionism may lead to avoiding challenges so as not to appear imperfect.  See “A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children”, by Dr. James Webb et al, for a full discussion of social/emotional issues of the gifted.

Pull-out Program

A program which takes a student out of the regular classroom during the school day for special programming.  In most districts in Arizona, the program addresses math or reading/language arts.

Social-Emotional Needs

Gifted and talented students may have affective needs that include heightened or unusual sensitivity to self-awareness, emotions, and expectations of themselves or others, and a sense of justice, moral judgment, or altruism. Counselors working in this area may address issues such as perfectionism, depression, underachievement or career planning.


Another representation of the percentile score. Stanine divides the percentiles into 9 divisions, with the 4, 5 and 6th stanine considered average, 7th and 8th stanine considered above average, and 9th stanine considered very much above average. The percentage of test scores in each stanine is as follows:











Percent of Scores











0th - 3rd

4th - 10th

11th - 22nd

23rd - 39th

40th - 59th

60th - 76th

77th - 88th

89th - 95th

96th and higher


Instruction that entails less time than is normal (e. g., completing a one year course in one semester, or three years of middle school in two). Telescoping differs from curriculum compacting in that time saved from telescoping always results in advanced grade placement. (From A Nation Deceived, volume 2, page 14.)

Twice Exceptional

A term used to describe a student that is both gifted and learning disabled.  These students may also be referred to as having dual exceptionalities or as being GT/LD.

Underachieving or Underachievement

A term used to describe the discrepancy between a student’s performance and their potential, or ability to perform at a much higher level.