Minority students including African Americans and Hispanics; ELL (English Language Learners); as well as low SES (socio-economic status) students are often left out of gifted programs. Today, we also need to be aware of bias against LGBTQ students, children of military personnel, homeless, and most twice-exceptional students.
Barriers to gifted education include school district policies that fail to recognize and value cultural diversity. Presumptions about low-income and minority students are given too much credence by decision-makers. Twice/thrice-exceptional students may not be achieving at acceptable levels and thus barred from participation in gifted programs. Schools tend to focus on disabilities which may be masking abilities.
The identification process can affect equity. Identification of giftedness is too often based on outdated information or research that doesn’t take into account cultural diversity and the needs of ELL students. Parents and students need to be better informed by school districts about the benefits and opportunities afforded by participation in gifted programs.
There are laws already in place to change this situation. Gifted education has been successfully argued under civil rights legislation. Also, twice-exceptional students are often covered by special education regulations. The legality of participation in gifted education programs is often dependent on state laws and regulation. Parents and teachers should check with state or national gifted organizations for laws applying to their particular state or country.
Parents can make a difference in their school district. They are passionate about the education of their children. Parents of gifted children should learn the lessons provided by parents of special needs children who took their battles to the courts. Parenting a gifted child is hard work – parents should become knowledgeable about state regulations regarding gifted education and who their state congressional representatives are as well as their child’s school’s written gifted policies. Parents also need to learn the ‘chain of command’ in their school district. Start with the child’s teacher, then administrator; and if necessary, school board.
There are practical steps can educators and policy makers can take to increase equity in gifted programs. These include seeing possibilities rather than limitations, seeking solutions rather than dwelling on obstacles, emphasizing student’s strengths over weaknesses, and improving communications with parents. Policy makers and administrators need to provide cultural sensitivity training for all educators, high quality course offerings that are culturally sensitive and ELL compliant, and expand access to rigorous curriculum. Administrators should provide PD in gifted education which would aid in achieving accurate identification, increase out of school opportunities for most at-risk students and engage community support for expanded opportunities. A transcript of this chat can 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.
About the author: Lisa 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Building Diversity in Gifted Programs (TEDxABQED 6:41)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
This week’s Global #gtchat welcomed Dr. Donna Y. Ford of Vanderbilt University to chat about Multicultural Gifted Education, a topic of which Dr. Ford has been raising awareness for nearly 20 years. Please see our recent interview here.
For many of the participants from 20 states and 6 countries, the information provided by Dr. Ford proved to be a real education! When asked about the role culture plays in participation in gifted programs, Dr. Ford explained, “Culture always matters. Educators and policies are harmful if colorblind – results in under-representation. Culture matters when making ALL decisions & selecting measures/instruments for ID and services. Culture matters when making ALL decisions & selecting measures/instruments for screening. Policies and procedures must consider culture to not be racist and discriminatory. When the culture of non-White students is addressed, White privilege is also addressed. And equity improves.” A full transcript may be found on our Storify site.
“Culturally Diverse Gifted Students” Livebinder
“Multicultural Gifted Education” from Dr. Donna Y. Ford
Dr. Donna Y. Ford Bio
Dr. Ford’s Website
Closing the Achievement Gap: Donna Ford (YouTube)
Intelligence Testing & Cultural Diversity: Concerns, Cautions & Considerations by Dr. Donna Y. Ford
Cybraryman’s Culture Page
Cybraryman’s Multicultural Celebration Page
Cybraryman’s Poverty Page
Cybraryman’s You Matter Page
This week, Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented welcomes Dr. Donna Y. Ford to discuss Multicultural Gifted Education on Friday at 7/6 C.
Dr. Ford is Professor of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. She is the former Betts Chair of Education and Human Development, and currently holds a joint appointment in the Department of Special Education and Department of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Ford has been a Professor of Special Education at the Ohio State University, an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Virginia, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky. A full bio may be found here.
Dr. Ford’s latest book is Recruiting and Retaining Culturally Different Students in Gifted Education from Prufrock Press. She was a 2014 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Literature-Instruction.
Below is an interview we recently conducted with Dr. Ford.
Moderator: How did experiences in your early life lead you to gifted education?
Dr. Ford: I was identified as gifted in elementary school. So I have always been interested in gifted education and students. I could share many reasons for my interest and passion, but will concentrate on one. My interestpeaked when my son was identified as gifted but started underachieving in the second grade. This was a terrible time for him — he and the teacher had a very poor relationship. He started hating school and doing poorly on assignments. This is when two areas of interest become a passion for me: (a) Black students’ under-representation in gifted education and (2) why gifted students in general, but gifted Black students in particular, underachieved. I decided to concentrate on gifted in my doctoral studies at this time. My dissertation in 1991 and first book (1996) focused on underachieving gifted Black students. Let me say that my work in gifted education is both personal and professional.
Moderator: How has your work in special education impacted your approach to gifted education?
Dr. Ford: I am convinced that many Black students in special education are gifted, and this is particularly so for our males. While I do not focus my work on twice exceptional students, I am pleased others are. This dual issue of over-representation in special education and under-representation in gifted education must be interrogated. Both result in lost potential. Both are a form of miseducation.
Moderator: What lessons have you learned from a mentor that you consider of greatest value?
Dr. Ford: Actually, I am often the mentor rather than mentee. This is not meant to be arrogant but to say that I learned early in life to be self-sufficient and make wise choices. This said, when mentoring, I stress the value of having a strong work ethic. Effort trumps ability in my experiences. Work hard and with integrity is a winning combination.
Moderator: Do you think gifted organizations could do more to promote diversity?
Dr. Ford: Absolutely!! Organizations have no choice but to be proactive and culturally responsive. To ignore or downplay culture and diversity is a disservice to children, students, families, and communities. At least half of students in P-12 settings are non-White. There is no rationale to ignore 50% of our students.
Thank you Dr. Ford for taking the time to talk with us! We look forward to discussing this critical issue with you.
Global #gtchat was excited to host not one, but two surprised guest experts at this chat! Dr. Joy L. Davis, educational consultant, scholar and author at Creating Positive Futures; and Dr. Donna Y. Ford, Professor of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. A full transcript can be found here.
Dr. Donna Y. Ford
During this chat we discussed barriers which exist to participation in gifted programs for high-ability, low-income students; which groups of children are most widely excluded from gifted programs; and who is most poised to make a difference – parents, educators, policy makers. Finally, best practices in achieving equity in gifted education and practical steps that could be taken by local educators to make a difference were proposed.
In 2012, the NAGC released “Unlocking Emergent Talent: Supporting High Achievement of Low-Income, High-Ability Students” which “challenges the nation to move beyond its near-singular focus of achieving minimum performance for all students, to identifying and developing the talent of all students who are capable of high achievement, including our promising low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse students who too often literally languish in our schools.” Information from this report was used in the research for this chat.
Title I + Gifted Education=Partnership for Equity from @davis_joy
“New & Important Books to Help with Eradicating Inequities in Education” from @davis_joy
‘Donna Y Ford, PhD’ (website)
Bright, Talented & Black (Amazon) from @davis_joy
“Multicultural Gifted Education” from @donnayford
Bright, Talented & Black (website)
We Are Gifted 2 (Dr. Joy’s Blog)
Mirror Books: Power of Positive Images (Dr. Joy’s Facebook Page)
From the Texas Education Agency: What is Equity in G/T Education?
Civil Rights Date Collection (U.S. government)
Critique of ‘Unlocking Emerging Talent’ from @GiftedPhoenix
Cybraryman’s Culture Page