Who is a "gifted" child?

"Mentally gifted" has a specific meaning under Pennsylvania state regulations as “outstanding intellectual and creative ability, the development of which requires specially designed programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program.”

​The state regulations further define a gifted child as "a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher or when multiple criteria indicate gifted ability."

Gifted children have special intellectual and social needs that differ from those of other children. "Gifted" does not mean that a child is smarter or better than other children.

A child may be both "gifted" and qualify for learning disability services - these children are sometimes called "dual exceptional," "twice exceptional" or "dual identification" students.

(For more information on support and services available for students with special needs, visit the Fox Chapel PALS — Parent Advocates for Learning Support — website.)

What are some common characteristics of gifted children?

While no two gifted children are exactly alike, there are several similar characteristics (e.g., unusual curiosity, memory, and sensitivity) and traits (including cognitive and behavioral characteristics) that describe gifted children.

What are some common myths about gifted children?

  • "Gifted students are smart; they will do fine on their own"
  • "She can't be gifted — she has below average grades"
  • "Gifted programs are elitist"
  • "The social and emotional development of gifted students is at the same rate as their intellectual development."

What is the school district's responsibility for gifted education?

The school district is required to identify "children with exceptionalities" who are also of school age and "who are gifted and who, by reason therof, need specially designed instruction." 24 P.S. § 13-1371(1).

Once identified, the district must ensure that the child receives an appropriate, specially designed instruction based on his or her individual needs and abilities. The education must ensure that the child will "benefit meaningfully" from the rate, level and manner of instruction. 22 Pa. Code § 16.41.

The Fox Chapel Area School District provides opportunities for gifted children to participate in acceleration or enrichment, or both, depending on the student's needs. These opportunities go beyond the program that the student would receive as a part of general education. 22 Pa. Code § 16.41.

What are the responsibilities of a parent or guardian?

Educate yourself about the special needs of gifted children; monitor your child's progress to ensure that programs are meeting his or her needs; and communicate your concerns to the appropriate educator or administrator.

How old does my child need to be to participate in the gifted program?

Children may be evaluated for gifted services as early as kindergarten. The state regulations apply to children who are "of school age." Many children benefit from receiving gifted services at young ages.

The school told me that my child might be gifted - what happens now?

If you agree, your child will be evaluated for the gifted program. See the FCASD web page on gifted support. [Note: FCAPAGE is working to augment this information and encourage the FCASD website to provide more details.]

I think my child might be gifted, but the school hasn't said anything. What should I do?

If you suspect that your child is gifted, you should make a written request to the school that she be evaluated. You do not have to wait for the school or a teacher to identify your child as gifted in order to request an evaluation.

Once the district receives your written request, you should receive a Permission to Evaluate form within 10 calendar days. You must sign the Permission to Evaluate form to permit the school to proceed with an individual intelligence examination given by the certified school psychologist. ​

My child was tested, but did not have an I.Q. score over 130. Is she ineligible?

No. A child with an IQ score below 130 may still qualify for gifted services when other educational criteria are met. 22 Pa. Code § 16.21. An IQ score may not be the sole criteria for identifying a student as requiring gifted services.

Other educational criteria include the following:
  • Is a year or more above grade achievement level for the normal age group in one or more subjects.
  • Demonstrates an observed or measured rate of mastering new academic content or skills that reflect gifted ability.
  • Demonstrates achievement, performance, or expertise in one or more academic areas.
  • Shows early and measured use of high-level thinking skills, academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communication skills, foreign language aptitude, or technology expertise.
  • Has documented, observed, validated, or assessed evidence that intervening factors are masking gifted ability.

My child was evaluated, but did not qualify. Is he ineligible for the program forever?

No. You may request another evaluation during the next school term (i.e., you may make one request per school year).

My child was in the gifted program in another school district. Will she be placed in the QUEST program automatically?

Placement in the gifted program at FCASD is not automatic. The school district will evaluate each child individually.

You should consider contacting your school's counselor to initiate the process and for more information.

My child has been identified as gifted. What happens now?

The Gifted Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation will evaluate information about your child's giftedness. The team includes a certified school psychologist, the principal or district representative, the classroom teacher(s), the building school counselor and parents or guardians.

The school psychologist will prepare a "Gifted Written Report" that recommends whether a child is gifted and requires specially designed instruction.

​The Gifted Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation must be completed within 60 calendar days from the school district receives the Permission to Evaluate form. The 60 days does not include summer vacation.