Code 80 Information


Click here to link to the identification matrix

The definition of giftedness most frequently cited in North America including Alberta, is "The Marland Definition" named after Sidney Marland, US Commissioner of Education and adopted by The United States Office of Education:

Gifted and talented children are those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. These are children who require differentiated educational programs and services beyond those normally provided by a regular school program in order to realize their contribution to self and society. Children capable of high performance include those with demonstrated achievement and/or potential ability in any one of the following areas:

* psychomotor ability

The United States office of education deleted psychomotor ability from the definition because psychomotor talents can be included in the performing arts, and athletically gifted students are already well provided for.

As stated in "Teaching Students Who Are Gifted And Talented", Alberta Education has adopted a new definition of giftedness based in part on the Marland Definition and Multiple Intelligence theory:

Giftedness is exceptional potential and /or performance across a wide range of abilities in one or more of the following areas:

General intellectual

Specific academic

Creative thinking





The Marland definition and the Alberta Learning definition reflect a move away from definitions that equate giftedness to a high IQ. High IQ scores are narrow in terms of defining giftedness since they measure mainly Linguistic and Mathematical/Logical Intelligence.

In Alberta we have a mandate to identify and "code" all children with special needs including the Gifted and Talented. All of those coded must have an IPP in place. The general categories are Severely Disabled (Codes 41 - 46), Mild/Moderately Disabled (Codes 51 - 59), Homebound (60) and Gifted and Talented (80). Of these categories, only the Code 40 series has additional funding attached. The guidelines for identifying these students are very stringent and closely monitored by the Special Education Branch.This year, some school districts will be monitored with regard to the Mildly/Moderately Disabled and the Gifted and Talented. This monitoring will involve a scrutiny of the numbers of students identified within districts and a look at the IPP's created for these students.

In general, the literature on the identification of Gifted Students supports the use of multiple criteria, from a variety of sources such as: teacher nominations, behavioral checklists, parents nominations, peer nominations and self-nominations. Standardized ability and achievement tests are still being used, but there is a movement away from their exclusive use as identifiers.

There is a growing recognition and acceptance of the notion of different kinds of gifts as suggested by the work of Howard Gardner and his associates. In addition to this there is a greater acceptance of the notion of "dual exceptionalities" - instances where individuals are both gifted and have a learning disability. There is also support for categories of giftedness based on IQ. These categories are Mildly Gifted (115 129 IQ), Moderately Gifted (130 - 144IQ) Highly Gifted (145 - 159IQ), and Extraordinarily Gifted (160+

It is possible now to identify far more than the traditional 3-5% of the population as gifted. The more students identified the more IPP's have to be written and the more resources are stretched. An outcome of the coding mandate might be that gifted students are under-identified to minimize the number of IPP's that need to be written or gifted students might be over-identified thus straining existing resources.

For the purpose of coding only the "Highly Gifted" - those in the top 3-5% should be identified, coded and have IPP's. This approach, however, would eliminate several deserving students who have desirable behavioral characteristics not measured by standardized tests. Not all students identified by test scores are necessarily suited to the type of program offered by the school or are self motivated and independent enough to followed an IPP no matter how well intentioned.

Completely eliminating the use of standardized test results runs the risk of missing those students of remarkable potential that might be underachieving for various reasons.

Alberta Learning coding, of course, does not have to be a criterion for acceptance into a school or district program for the gifted. Code 80 students would likely make up some, but not all of a gifted group. Do we need some criteria for Code 80 to keep the numbers down to reasonable levels according to resources available and different or additional criteria for acceptance into programs? I think it might come down to the amount of resources that school districts get from Alberta Learning for special needs students and then at the district level, how these resources are allocated. Some districts spend more on gifted education than others do.

Use the matrix for coding purposes, but not for inclusion in your school's enrichment program.

Click here to link to the identification matrix