16805892 - THEORY INTO PRACTICE 44(2 98104 Carolyn M...

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Carolyn M. Callahan Identifying Gifted Students From Underrepresented Populations The identification of gifted and talented students from those populations that are underrepresented in programs for the gifted (minorities, children from low socioeconomic status environments, stu- dents with limited English speaking ability) is a problem that needs to be examined as the complex issue that it is rather than as a problem that can be solved with a single, silver-bullet answer. In exam- ining this issue, the first step is to look at the inter- related factors that influence the process: defini- tions of giftedness, the use of 1-shot paper- and-pencil assessments, the inherent biases in policies and procedures, and the lack of coordina- tion of curriculum with identification and place- ment procedures. Then, critical steps in bringing about change can be proposed. The solutions pro- posed are structured around increased advocacy for underrepresented students and attention to current research. T HE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES (Dono- van & Cross, 2002) documented that, al- though there has been an increase in the represen- tation of American Indian and Native Alaskan, Black, and Hispanic students identified as gifted, the underrepresentation of these groups continues to plague our educational system. The report points out that, although there is considerable vari- ation among states, Black and Hispanic students are less than half as likely to be in gifted programs as White students, and American Indian and Na- tive Alaskans fall between Blacks and Whites. The National Excellence report (U.S. Department of Education, 1993) documented the underrep- resentation of low-income students with National Education Longitudinal Study data indicating that only 9% of students in gifted and talented pro- grams were categorized in the bottom quartile of family income. The issues faced by administrators, teachers, and policy makers who seek to validly and reliably identify gifted and talented students from underrepresented populations of ethnic minority and low-income students are too often over- simplified or uncoupled from one another— resulting in unsuccessful and frustrating efforts 98 THEORY INTO PRACTICE, 44 (2), 98–104 Carolyn M. Callahan is a professor in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Requests for reprints can be sent to Carolyn M. Callahan, Department of Ed Leadership, Found. & Pol- icy, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400265, Char- lottesville, VA 22904. E-mail: [email protected]
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that disappoint and discourage those who attempt to redress the inequities. The attempts to find a single, silver-bullet solution in the form of a new test or a single new policy (such as a quota system) result in controversy over the adequacy of pro- cesses and procedures, in criticisms of the validity of the process, and in conflicts between the major- ity and minority populations. The more appropri- ate approach is to view the situation as a complex
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16805892 - THEORY INTO PRACTICE 44(2 98104 Carolyn M...

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