The TExES Gifted and Talented Supplemental Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine whether or not an individual possesses the knowledge necessary to teach students that are considered to be talented or gifted. The terms “talented” and “gifted” in this context refer to students that have the ability to learn a single subject or group of subjects at a much faster pace than the average student. This exam assesses the individual’s knowledge of the concerns associated with teaching gifted students and the teaching methods that are necessary to effectively educate students that are capable of learning very quickly. This exam is required in order to become certified as an entry-level teacher for gifted and talented students. The exam consists of 80 multiple-choice questions that are related to the following areas:
- Foundations of Gifted Education (40%)
- Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction (60%)
The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The Gifted and Talented Supplemental Exam is offered in a computer-based format and the registration fee for the exam is $131. However, there are usually other exams and fees in addition to this exam that are required in order to become certified as an entry-level educator for gifted and talented students within the state of Texas.
Sample Study Notes
1. Define gifted children.
Gifted children are found in all ethnic and social-economic groups. They have an exceptionally high level of intellectual curiosity, with a need for precision in thinking and expression; they process data quickly and learn in an integrative, nonlinear manner by making intuitive leaps. At an early age, they show emotional sensitivity, empathy for ideas and people, and concern for moral and existential issues. They have a highly developed code of ethics and an intense need for the world to be logical and fair. Gifted children are fascinated with ideas and words, have an extensive vocabulary, and find multiple meanings in the simplest concept. They have the ability to think in the abstract, see all sides of an issue, and offer logical solutions to complex problems. Their minds work in metaphors and symbols, and they often have difficulty fitting in because they don’t think the way other people do. They are frequently argumentative and have an idiosyncratic interpretation of events.
2. Describe some common characteristics of gifted children.
Gifted children are individuals. Some are outgoing and socially well-adjusted and become effective leaders because they are able to earn the trust of their classmates. Others have trouble relating, because they view the world differently than most of their peers. They have difficulty making friends and may become isolated and lonely. Each gifted child utilizes his intellectual curiosity in unique ways. However, they share common behavioral characteristics:
They have an extreme need for constant, engaging mental stimulation. They get bored if information is presented in small segments or they are expected to learn by rote and repetition.
They need to explore all aspects of a topic. They have to understand the how and why as much as the what.
They have an insatiable curiosity about everything. They never stop asking questions.
They have the ability to shut out distractions and focus on a subject for long periods of time.
3. Discuss some options for teaching gifted children.
Because gifted children have advanced cognitive abilities and different educational needs, teachers need to develop lessons and activities to stimulate their active minds and inquisitive imaginations. Since most public schools are grouped by age rather than learning ability, bringing gifted students together in a single classroom no matter what their ages simplifies the teacher’s job; he doesn’t have to plan different lessons and activities based on intellectual need, as he would in a heterogeneous classroom environment. In addition, like-minded students naturally stimulate each other. Accelerating a student to the grade level appropriate to his ability is another option. Testing a student on the subject matter before it is presented (and then developing lessons and activities that fill in the gaps and challenge his preconceived ideas) is another possibility. Allowing gifted students to take different levels of schooling at the same time and encouraging extracurricular activities are other options to consider.
4. Discuss strategies to keep the attention of gifted students.
Gifted students have an active imagination and their brains are always “on.” To prevent boredom and keep their attention, a teacher must avoid lag time by preparing a lesson plan that fills the entire class period. Moving around, varying voice tone and timber, and presenting at a brisk pace all contribute to keeping students’ focused on the subject matter. Asking thought-provoking questions that require critical thinking stimulates discussion and encourages them to reason things out for themselves. Throwing out comments and quick questions that only require a one- or two-word answer keeps them involved in the presentation. Breaking the class into small groups, giving each group a specific task, and having each one present their findings to the whole class provides a challenging change of pace, keeps them involved, and helps students learn to work as a team. This is especially important for gifted students because some of them have difficulty relating to and working with others, so they need practical experience in this area of their development.
5. Define multiple intelligences. Discuss ways to incorporate the theory in the classroom.
The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor of education. He believed that everyone learns according to one of eight intelligences, rather than just in the traditional linguistic and logical manner, which is how most schools are structured to teach. Since not all students learn this way, some children are labeled “slow,” “underachievers,” or “learning disabled” because they are not allowed and/or encouraged to learn by using their natural talents and abilities. If a teacher learns to recognize the eight intelligences as defined by Dr. Gardner, he can develop lesson plans that reach every one of his students, including the learning disabled. Adopting and utilizing the theory of multiple intelligences offers a wide variety of teaching tools to enhance lectures and create activities that spur the imagination and expand learning opportunities for all students. The Eight Intelligences are:
- VERBAL-LINGUISTIC: words and language
- LOGICAL-MATHEMATICAL: numbers and mathematical reasoning
- SPATIAL: pictures and three-dimensional visualization
- BODILY KINESTHETIC: body movement and coordination
- MUSICAL: musical tones and harmonies
- NATURALIST: nature, ecology, and the environment
- INTERPERSONAL: people and relationships
- INTRAPERSONAL: introspection and self-awareness
A well-prepared teacher with an interactive lesson plan already uses Dr. Gardner’s theory. They know, through experience and observation, that students learn in different ways. Teachers lecture (verbal-linguistic intelligence), requiring students to think conceptually and link facts together (logical-mathematical intelligence); and use pictures, charts and other props (visual-spatial intelligence and, depending upon the material, music-rhythmic intelligence) during the presentation. Many lesson plans include hands-on projects (bodily-kinesthetic intelligence and, depending upon the subject, naturalist intelligence). Asking thought-provoking questions that encourage lively class discussions (interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence) are classroom staples.
6. Describe a performance contract as a means of student assessment.
A performance contract is a written agreement between one student or a group of students and the teacher about a specific activity, e.g. a research paper, oral presentation, etc. The contract clearly states the goal, explains the activity, establishes a timeline and describes who will do what and how it will be done. Sometimes the agreement explains the criteria to be used to evaluate the finished product. This tool helps students learn how to plan a project and use their time more efficiently. Not only can the completed project be graded, but also the performance contract itself can be evaluated. The teacher should assess the student’s participation in setting up the contract, his willingness to compromise when necessary, and his general attitude about the concept and the process.
Performance contracts can be a great learning experience for students, insofar as they teach them how to plan and prioritize. When used for a group project, it requires collaborating on the details of the contract and working with other students to reach a common goal, two activities gifted students sometimes have difficulty managing.
7. List some questions to ask as the student develops a performance contract and as the agreement is evaluated.
In order for a performance contract to be a learning experience, the guidelines for writing one should be very general. The teacher can either give the student a written list of suggestions or better yet, discuss them one-on-one. Some questions that might be used:
- What work items are you planning to include?
- Where you will find the necessary data? Personal reference books? The Internet? The library? Do you have additional sources?
- How long will it take to outline a plan, research the topic, and finish the project?
- What criteria should be used to evaluate the finished product?
- Questions that might be used to evaluate the completed contract:
- Is the contract realistic relative to the required completion date?
- Are the contract questions appropriate to the project objectives?
- Were reliable and appropriate sources chosen?
- How comprehensive is the plan?
- Does the student understand his capabilities and recognize his limitations?
8. Describe portfolios as a means of student assessment.
A portfolio is a collection of the student’s work assembled over a period of time (six-week grading period, single semester, the entire year, etc). Various items can be included: contracts; copies of completed activities such as papers, presentations and pictures of props; performance assessments made by the student, his peers and the teacher; copies of class work and homework; classroom tests; and state-mandated exams. A portfolio is a powerful aid in assessing the student’s progress, and an excellent format to present to parents so they can review their child’s progress. The decision on what to include should be collaboration between the student and the teacher. What will be included: examples of best work, worst work, typical work, or some of each? Will the student keep a copy as a reference? Decisions need to be made and rules established as early as possible in the process, so progress is accurately and fairly recorded.
9. Describe how to create and evaluate a portfolio.
Once decisions have been made about what will be included, it is important to begin with baseline data for comparison as the portfolio grows. Selected material can be placed in a folder or large envelope with the student’s name on the front. Each addition needs to be dated with an explanation attached, stating why the item was included and what features should be noted. Teachers who use portfolios will often create assignments with the intention of including them in the package. As the contents grow, it may become necessary, because of space limitations, to review the items and remove some daily work and a few quizzes and tests. Once the portfolio is complete, the teacher needs to have a method to evaluate the contents and review the student’s progress in areas such as creativity, critical thinking, originality, research skills, perseverance, responsibility, and communication effectiveness. A checklist can be useful.
10. Define these assessment strategies: work products, response groups.
WORK PRODUCTS are completed assignments that are evaluated on the treatment of the topic as well as on creativity, originality, organization, understanding of the subject matter, social and academic progress, and success in meeting predetermined criteria. Work products can take many different forms, including but not limited to: research papers; poems, fiction and non-fiction stories; bulletin boards, video and audio tapes; computer and laboratory demonstrations; dramatic performances, debates and oral presentations; paintings, drawings and sculptures; and musical compositions and performances.
RESPONSE GROUPS are discussions about a particular subject. Frequently, the students themselves start them spontaneously in response to a shared experience. They want to talk about the event because it affected all of them in some way. Teachers can gain insight into the students’ critical thinking skills, observations, willingness to participate in the discussion, and behavior within the group. These group discussions are a great way to evaluate how willing individual students are to contribute and how well they interact with others.