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 Identification of giftedness is too often based on outdated information or research that doesn’t take into account cultural diversity and the needs of ELL students.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: email@example.com
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