Chapter 15

Gifted Students from Differing Groups

Chapter Focus

  • Culturally different students and their under-representation in gifted and AP classes.
  • Different v. Diverse: All cultures are diverse--differences can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunications, and clashes, and thus, merit consideration.
  • Barriers to identification are explored along with options for recruiting racially and culturally different students into gifted and AP programs.
  • Assumptions for the chapter: Past and current attempts at addressing this issue are inadequate, resulting in segregation within the schools; gifted education is a need, not a privilege; no group is more gifted than another; "giftedness" is subjective, with social, cultural, economic, and political aspects in practice and identification; education should build students, not subtract; comprehensive and proactive efforts must be sustained to recruit culturally different students into the programs.

Information to Consider

What research has shown...

  • African American, Hispanic American, and Native Americans are under-represented by as much as 50% in gifted and AP programs.
  • Gifted and AP programs offer greater educational opportunities, leading to greater social opportunities. Therefore,
  • Many culturally different students, who are gifted, are not given the foundation for these opportunities.
  • While Asian-Americans are also a culturally different group, research has not found this group to be under-represented in gifted and AP programs.

Recruitment Issues and Barriers

Recruitment=screening, identifying, and placing students.

  • The recruitment of culturally, racially, and ethnically different students into programs is harmed by a lack of understanding, and inaccurate perceptions.
  • Deficit Thinking: Many educators interpret differences in culturally different students as deficits and negatives, leading to more "at-risk" placements than gifted placements.
  • A history of perceiving culturally different groups as inferior, as well standardized tests that favor the Anglo-American heritage, only encourage the deficit perspective.
  • The screening for gifted programs is often affected by the deficit model, meaning gifted students of different backgrounds are overlooked more often.
  • The current checklists favor the Anglo-American heritage, and thus educators should move towards processes that account for differences.
  • An important consideration is that not all gifted students have equal opportunity to express their abilities. Those with limited English proficiencies, and/or backgrounds not designed to build these gifts can mean many gifted students are overlooked.
  • The very definition of gifted devalues different-ness. Cognitive and academic aptitude are valued over spatial, musical, interpersonal, and navigational abilities, for example. Tests are not designed to capture the many scopes of gifted.
  • Stereotypes can also influence the interpretation of the testing, leading to omission of culturally different students from gifted programs.
  • Identification data should be multidimensional and from many sources.
  • Data should highlight intelligence, achievement, creativity, motivation, interests, and learning styles, rather than just academic aptitude.
  • Identification should follow the model of "Do No Harm", and work within the best interests of ALL students.
  • Efforts need to be made to determine what supports gifted students may need, as underachievement is a concern, and studies have noted this within culturally different students.

Recruitment Recommendations

  • Talent Development Philosophy: Begin identification early--pre-K instead of 2nd grade, and then nurture the gifts.
  • Tests and Assessment Changes: *Only use tests that are valid for students from many differing backgrounds and cultures; *Only use tests as a piece of the data puzzle--the results should be used with careful consideration of backgrounds and be used to gather more knowledge to inform thoughtful practice.
  • Culturally Sensitive Tests: Standardized tests favor native speakers. Use nonverbal tests and tests that are not skewed towards English proficiency when screening for gifted students.
  • Multicultural Assessment Preparation: Educators and assessors should utilize cultural assessment variables when interpreting test results to make informed decisions via a cultural lens.
  • Gifted placement should be the result of multiple pieces of differentiated data.
  • If teacher referrals represent Step 1, the teachers should: *be prepared with an understanding of gifted education, urban and multicultural eduction, and multicultural assessment so as not to omit students of differing backgrounds.

Retention Recommendations

Teachers and schools should be prepared with a multicultural education background when developing gifted programs to ensure equitable access.

Multicultural Instruction
  • Teachers should modify teaching styles to account for different learning styles.
  • Studies on African American scholars have identified nine overarching cultural styles that would be best met in a differentiated learning environment.

Multicultural Gifted Curriculum
  • Create culturally responsive and responsible learning environments.
  • The Ford-Harris Multicultural Framework provides opportunities for learning experiences based upon Bloom's Taxonomy and Banks' Multicultural Education Model (304).
  • Multicultural education should give students the chance to identify with, connect, and relate to the curriculum from multiple perspectives and through meaningful experiences.

Multicultural Counseling
  • Emotional, Social, and Psychological supports need to be in place, as gifted students from varying backgrounds may be accused of "acting White". Both parties of this conversation need to be addressed and supported by appropriate measures.
Big image

(Ford & Harris, 1991)

To Sum

  • Brown v. Board and NCLB have underscored the need to eliminate segregation and close achievement gaps in American schools.
  • De Facto segregation still exists, and is highlighted by the under-representation of culturally, racially, and ethnically different students in gifted and AP programs.
  • Deficit Thinking, the tendency to perceive differences as negatives, has NO place in our schools.
  • Culturally competent educators need to become the advocates for equitable education for all.

Works Cited

Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (2013). Multicultural education: issues and perspectives. (8th ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Ford, D. Y., & Harris, J. J. (1991). Multicultural gifted education . Waco, Texas : Prufrock Press. Retrieved from