What is Gifted?

TAGT believes gifted students from every cultural background see the world in unique ways and are developing minds that just might discover innovative answers to the most challenging questions of their generation. When communicating with administrators, teachers, parents, community members, and the students themselves, it is crucial to emphasize that being identified as gifted and talented is not a badge of honor, not a reason for bragging, nor a reward for good behavior. It is an educational need. And once identified, the definition is essential in designing the services that permit G/T students to be appropriately challenged. 

There is not universal agreement on a definition of what it means to be gifted. Also, students from differing backgrounds may demonstrate their giftedness in differing manners. It is valuable to investigate other well-recognized characterizations, as they include aspects of giftedness not incorporated into the state’s definition. Developing this broader perspective can help ensure that a wider range of gifted and talented students are properly identified and served. 

Texas State Definition (Texas Education Code)

This definition is now codified in The Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students (Texas Education Agency, 2009), it is the basis for identification and services that must be provided for gifted and talented students in Texas.

“Gifted and talented student” means a child or youth who performs at or shows the potential for performing at a remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared to others of the same age, experience or environment and who:

  • exhibits high-performance capability in an intellectual, creative or artistic area;
  • possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or
  • excels in a specific academic field.

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)

“Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).” 

Federal Definition

"The term ‘gifted and talented,” when used with respect to students, children, or youth, means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in such areas 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." 

Columbus Group, 1991 

“Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.”


Gifted Glossary from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)


Disclaimer: Inclusion on this page does not imply endorsement by TAGT.

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