It's important to realize that the proper measures of "giftedness" are really unrealistic. Taking into account the data, an IQ of 130, which most gifted and talented programs around the U.S. use, represents the top 2 percent of people. It's known that in counties with students who have a lower average IQ, the threshold may be lowered by up to 10 or 15 points and still these students are considered significantly talented. The problem with the educational system in America is that we tend to have an elitist point of view.
We believe that those who are truly considered "gifted" are those in the top 1 or 2 percent but really, all this does is raise a class of elitist adults who believe they're much better than the rest of humanity while really, the only thing they may actually ranked much better at is an IQ test.
So what's the solution? I believe that first of all, gifted and talented programs should be a bit more inclusive and provide more help to a wider variety of students. For example, instead of just basing this "giftedness" on intellectual capacity, include other skills, such as artistic talent, and other fairly under- appreciated skills.
Second, cafe41 is right in that more stimulation is necessary, but in fact, more stimulation should be mandated in the public school system, since the environment can account for up to 80 percent of IQ and what allows the environment to do that? Stimuli! What's also important to remember is that the public school system, in its present state, was created based upon the needs of the industrial era and with the end of that about 60 years back, it's about time for a new system, since the fastest growing sectors right now involve more creativity and a sense of individuality, not uniform factory jobs.
We need a system of public education that can cater to more students while at the same time, embrace each one's individuality. One way of doing that is treating school like an actual workplace: with a cubicle, access to a computer, breaks, etc., just like a real job. Maybe then we'll have fewer students aspiring to be the janitor at McDonald's!
So back to the point, what's the third thing? That would be student interaction. Maybe gifted and talented programs won't even be necessary if more collaboration and individuality were encouraged. But for the time being, these kids should be encouraged to help their fellow students, whether it be through extracurricular or volunteer work. As long as they have that interaction that they need (and probably crave) they will succeed in school and most likely, in life since EQ is just as important as IQ (possibly even more) in terms of success.
That said, the need for a special class of students to be raised as what could be considered the "cognitive elite" is preposterous. These kids shouldn't be told to be completely separated from the rest of their classmates just because of IQ and any effort to do so is basically just asking for more introverted elitists. Also, I definitely agree with this article in that an IQ of 120 starts the "gifted" range since the top 10 percent (equivalent to an IQ of 120) is usually regarded as almost a gold standard for measuring individual students' knowledge and capabilities. Why wouldn't it apply for gifted and talented programs? Personally, I've always been told I was gifted and talented, but my IQ of 125 falls short of that 130 threshold. I did take the test in adverse conditions and never applied for the gifted and talented program since, like other gifted children, I hated doing things that I wasn't good at or did not like and tests were definitely one of those things.
Though I may just be an anonymous voice on the internet, I hope that mine was heard. I didn't want to post with a username since I hadn't registered yet and going through my email is just dreadful for me.