Access and Equity in Gifted Programs

Gifted students, unfortunately, too often face obstacles put in place by their own schools when trying to access gifted services and programs. These may include a mismatch between assessments and services offered. School administrators, faculty and staff may express a narrow view of exactly what constitutes giftedness and an individual student’s needs having had little exposure to PD regarding gifted education. Due to budgetary constraints, schools may not have challenging coursework or materials available for GT students.

Cultural and community mindsets can also present barriers for students who are identified as gifted, but then choose not to participate in the programs fearing repercussions from friends and family. Students become aware of negative stereotypes of what it means to be ‘smart’ at a very early age. Bullying by classmates can be a real hindrance when considering whether to avail themselves of gifted services.

Arguments based on ‘anti-intellectualism’ can result in stealth discrimination. Elimination of gifted programs can actually reduce potentially beneficial services for low-income and minority students. There’s no denying the dark history of using gifted education to segregate students. However, equity can’t be achieved by denying access to students who lack the resources to access opportunities outside of traditional schools. ‘Anti-intellectualism’ often relies on false assumptions such as eliminating gifted programs will allow more resources to be given to all students or that flexible ability grouping is the same as the archaic practice of tracking; it is not.

There are many ways the educational community as a whole can increase participation of underserved GT students by investing in quality gifted and talent development programs and providing PD for teachers and staff. Schools can provide multiple avenues for students to participate in and benefit from a variety of gifted services. They can reach out to parents through the creation of support groups and by providing information about available programs.

Teachers can seek PD opportunities in gifted education and obtain gifted certification which in turn raises awareness about the existence of giftedness across all cultures and economic groups. They must consider their own cultural biases and work to eliminate those which might interfere with how they see their students and their potential abilities.

Equity in gifted education cannot be achieved without addressing gaps in the performance and opportunities for underserved students. It begins with universal screening using tests that are culturally sensitive. Schools need to be proactive when working with underserved students by reaching out to families of color and low-SES and explaining to them what services are available and for whom. All classrooms should provide culturally responsive teaching (CRT) across all disciplines and use culturally authentic and responsive materials to encourage students to identify their strengths and interests.

A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

 Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


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Effect of Local Norms on Racial and Ethnic Representation in Gifted Education

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Discrimination in Gifted Education Must End

Inequities and Discrimination in Gifted Education: Why Hispanic and Black Students are Under-Represented and the Case of District U-46 (Ford) (pdf)

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The Case for Gifted Education as an Equity Issue

Not All Gifted Children Are from Affluent Families

Recognizing, Supporting, and Nurturing Underserved Gifted Students: A Moral Imperative

Anti-Excellence Dog Whistles in the Education Media

How to Increase Access to Gifted Programs for Low-Income and Black and Latino Children

Anti-intellectualism (Wikipedia)

Gifted Education for Educators

Gifted Intervention Specialists Need to be a Visible Resource

Photo courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Posted on September 30, 2019, in Equity, gifted education, Multicultural, New York City Schools, Teaching and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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