The Quiet Crisis

Culturally and Economically Diverse Learners

The Problem

There's a disproportionate amount of students who are served in gifted programs. These students tend to fall into higher economic statues and they also tend to be a part of the dominant normative culture in the U.S. Students who are apart of these privileged groups have more access to the resources and testing that would be needed to move prospective gifted students into the programs they need. Conversely, students who are in lower economic statues and who are apart of the non-dominant group are often over-looked due to implicit bias, lack of funding, and lack of training. So that begs the question, how do we ensure quality education for children of diverse backgrounds, and more specifically, those who gifted?

Implicit Bias

Every person carries certain preconceived notions about the people they interact with and that is no different for teachers. When a student does not display traits generally epitomized by the dominant normative culture, the teacher will began to attribute those traits to a type of "othering" where they may say, "that's not how WE do things here."

This mentality can lead a teacher to over look a student based more on their "perceived" bad behavior rather than their actual achievement in terms of the criterion needed for gifted students. Some of the ways that teachers tend to show implicit bias can be teachers can lower or raise achievement expectations based on race/ ethnicity since society constantly inundates us with messaging about what students can and cannot achieve. Instead, teachers should adapt curriculum and instruction that responds to students' culture to best meet the needs of each student.

Lack of Training

One of the second leading reasons these students tend to be overlooked are the lack of training for teachers in siting "giftedness" in a culturally responsive way. Culturally Responsive teaching "is the importance of including student's cultural references in all aspects of learning." How could culturally responsive teaching look when assessing giftedness? According to Dr. Donna Y. Ford, in Culturally Responsive Classrooms: Affirming Culturally Different Gifted Students, by overcoming our implicit bias (this can be done through training) when we are culturally responsive we have more student centered classrooms, (based on lack of cultural understanding) eliminate barriers to learning, and they can achieve their full potential. By having the training for understanding the diverse cultural backgrounds these students will be more likely to be recognized as gifted.

Lack of Funding

  • Wealthy schools only need to test to find who the gifted students are.
  • High economic status students are given high-quality early enrichment and academics from a young age
  • A large number of culturally/language diverse students are in schools that are underfunded, have less experienced teachers, lack a rigorous curriculum, and have fewer educational resources.
  • The lack of funding can also lead to schools not having the ability to afford the tests gifted students need to be identified, let alone the support needed.


Some of the solutions:

  • Change the mindset of giftedness from fixed IQ to malleable; for example: notice students who may be gifted in nontraditional ways
  • Think of proficiency as a yard marker rather than the end zone; for example: instead of aiming to have all 3rd grade students reading at a 3rd grade level, aim to have all 3rd grade students reading at a 6th grade level
  • Create new strategies in identifying gifted students in culturally and economically diverse school communities; for example: provide enrichment and notice which students respond quickly
  • Mandate teacher training on giftedness; for example: understanding how cultural and socioeconomic factors can affect it

Culturally Diverse Gifted