Celi Trépanier, Author, former public school teacher, homeschool mom and a passionate advocate for gifted children
First, I would find out what the criteria is for children getting into the program. Public school gifted programs are implemented (identification of children, acceptance into the program and how the program offers gifted education) differently in every state and in every school district depending on laws and funding, so knowing exactly what tests and criteria they use is important, and ask to see your child's scores.
If you still feel your child is gifted (usually with an IQ score of 130 or above) and should be in the gifted program, request further evaluation. Some gifted children are never recommended for testing and/or do poorly on gifted identification tests, and are overlooked and never identified as being gifted. You may also elect to have private testing done by a child psychologist who has experience with gifted children. If you are still not sure if your child is gifted, here are three gifted trait checklists to check out:
There are other gifted characteristics checklists available online, also. See if your child identifies with many of these characteristics listed.
You also mentioned behavior, and in my opinion, a child's behavior should have no bearing on whether or not he is identified as being gifted and allowed into the gifted program. A gifted program is special education for children who learn differently, often at a much faster pace, and have other unique social and emotional needs which need to be addressed. It should never be viewed as enrichment or a reward for high achieving students. Not all gifted children are high achievers, and not all gifted children have good behavior in school.
Lastly, gifted children can excel in one subject, but be average in another. A gifted child with dyslexia may be several grade levels ahead of his classmates in math, but in reading, he has average scores. Again, achievement (grades and test scores) is not always an accurate measure of giftedness nor should it be the single criteria used to determine if a child is to receive specialized gifted education. Often, when a gifted child is not challenged and taught new information in school, their achievement in school starts to drop out of frustration and/or boredom for having to learn information they already know.
All that said, there are instances where gifted education programs use achievement scores and grades as criteria and the program then becomes one for high-achievers not for all gifted children. It will be up to you to do some research and reading, learning more about giftedness in children, and finding out how your school district implements its gifted program. Being knowledgeable and being prepared will help you get your child into a gifted program if he is indeed gifted.