Academic competitions can expand the scope and depth of content, allowing gifted learners to explore subject areas far beyond the opportunities available in a regular classroom. Too frequently, especially in this era of high-stakes testing, classroom-based learning opportunities are focused on ensuring that students reach minimal competency standards, and little attention is paid to those who have already mastered those standards. However, in academic competitions, it is possible to make the depth and breadth of content limitless.
In an era of high-stakes testing and decreased emphasis on gifted programming, it is important that we identify and maximize opportunities to cultivate our students’ giftedness and talent. Academic competitions can provide such meaningful opportunities such as: this article: (a) to help educators and parents identify competitions of value to gifted students, (b) to illustrate to educators and parents how to derive the greatest benefit from these competitions, (c) to provide guidelines for academic competitions that will enable these competitions to maximize their value, and (d) to issue a call for the creation of more academic competitions that would increase and broaden the participation of our gifted students in differentiated activities in a variety of fields. We believe that establishing such competitions is a cost-efficient way to provide the differentiation our gifted learners need to realize their potential.