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Gifted Dropouts
by Hazel Rivera

I am a gifted student, currently in my first year of university. In elementary school, I went through public school, private school, and homeschool. School was too easy and boring. It had no challenges for me. I practically completed the whole book in one day. This is a common problem for students like me all the way through high school. They feel school is a waste of time. As a result, they become school dropouts. There are various reasons why gifted students drop out of school.

Being gifted is not a sickness or something to be diagnosed. It is a potential. Gifted students have the potential to excel in many areas such as academic, social, and artistic. According to the Puerto Rico Law 159-2012, a gifted student has an IQ equal or higher than 130 and has an exceptional social and cognitive capacity above their chronological age. They have excellent memory, a fast learning pace, and require less repetition. Therefore, they tend to get bored easily when they are not given challenging topics. Boredom in these students can lead to leaving school. They would rather be doing more interesting things that are more stimulating than wasting time in school being forced to learn topics they already know.

A big problem in gifted identification is misdiagnosis. They are often mistaken as attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Medications like Ritalin and Strattera are prescribed to these students to control their behavior patterns. However, these do not necessarily exist in this population. The Institute of Research and Development for the Gifted at the University of Puerto in Cayey reported that 70% of gifted students were referred to them because of problems at their schools. The main cause in these situations is boredom. Lack of elaborate information in schools can lead these students to jump around in their classroom, disrupt the class or annoy other students. This can result in the teacher recommending the student to see a professional. The misinformed professional then proceeds to medicate the student. The simple mistake of misdiagnosing a gifted student can be unhealthy to its education.

Unprepared teachers can impact a gifted student’s education. A wrong approach when dealing with these students can be very harmful. An example of this is continuously repeating a topic. Gifted students dislike constant repetition. It is frustrating to have to listen to the same thing many times when they already know the material. This type of constant frustration along the years is one of the reasons gifted students drop out. Lack of teachers prepared to work with these students has made many students leave school out of boredom and frustration.

Puerto Rico does not have programs to work with gifted students. Until 2012, there was not even a law to define what the gifted population is. In United States, there are laws for the gifted in almost every state. Universities prepare professionals to be able to work with these students. There are many programs and schools specially designed for them. However, 30% of school dropouts have been identified as gifted. This also applies to Spain but with a 68% rate. If this is the case with countries that have specialized programs, laws, and schools, imagine Puerto Rico.








"La gente es maravillosamente tolerante. Perdona todo excepto al genio."
Oscar Wilde.