Culturally and linguistically diverse students in gifted education: recruitment and retention issues. (2022)

A persistent dilemma at all levels of education is theunderrepresentation of African American, American Indian, andHispanic/Latino students in gifted education and advanced placement (AP)classes. Research on the topic of underrepresentation has tended tofocus on African American students, starting with Jenkins's (1936)study, which found that despite high intelligence test scores AfricanAmerican students were not formally identified as gifted. For over 70years, then, educators have been concerned about the paucity of Blackstudents being identified as gifted. During this timeframe, littleprogress has been made in reversing underrepresentation. This lack ofprogress may be due in part to the scant database on gifted students whoare culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD). In 1998, Ford reviewedtrends in reports on underrepresentation spanning 2 decades and foundthat African American, Hispanic/Latino American, and American Indianstudents have always been underrepresented in gifted education, withunderrepresentation increasing over the years for African Americanstudents. (Unlike African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indianstudents, Asian American students are well represented in giftededucation and AP classes. For example, as of 2002, Asian Americanstudents represented 4.42% of students in U.S. schools but 7.64% ofthose in gifted education; see Table 1). Regardless of the formula usedto calculate underrepresentation (see Skiba et al., 2008), theaforementioned three groups of CLD students are always underrepresented,and the percentage of underrepresentation is always greater than 40%.Also, as noted by Ford (1998), less than 2% of publications at that timefocused on CLD gifted groups, resulting in a limited pool of theoriesand studies from which to draw.

The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education'sOffice for Civil Rights (OCR; see Table 1) indicate that as of 2002,African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian students remainpoorly represented in gifted education, especially CLD males. Further,CLD students seldom enroll in AP classes (The College Board, 2002), themain venue for gifted education at the high school level. In bothprograms, underrepresentation is at least 50%--well beyond statisticalchance and above OCR's 20% discrepancy formula stipulation (Ford& Frazier-Trotman, 2000). Several OCR Annual Reports to Congress(2000, 2004, 2005) and publications by Karnes, Troxclair, and Marquardt(1997) and Marquardt and Karnes (1994) indicated that discriminationagainst CLD students continues in school settings and in giftededucation. Karnes et al. examined 38 complaints or letters of findingsin gifted education, falling into four categories: (a) admission togifted programs; (b) identification of gifted students; (c) placement ingifted programs; and (d) procedures involving notification,communication and testing of gifted students. Of these 38 complaints orletters, almost half (n = 17) pertained to discrimination against CLDstudents. Likewise, Marquardt and Karnes reported that most of the 48letters of findings they reviewed related to discrimination against CLDstudents, mainly involving lack of access to gifted programs. Theyconcluded that "unless a school district is constantly vigilant inmonitoring its procedures for minority students identification andadmission to gifted programs, minorities reportunderrepresentation" (p. 164).

Compared to special education, gifted education is a small field;fewer publications are devoted to this area of study. And unlike specialeducation, gifted education is not federally mandated, leaving much roomfor differences in definitions, identification, and programming acrossdistricts and states. Only 6 states fully mandate gifted education, and10 states have neither funding nor a mandate (Davidson Institute, 2006).Proponents of gifted education argue that gifted students haveexceptional or special needs, as do children in special educationclasses; without appropriate services, gifts and talents may be lost ornot fully developed. Accordingly, the Javits Act of 1994 recognized thispotential loss of talent, specifically among economically disadvantagedand CLD students. The major goal of the Javits Act is to support effortsto identify and serve CLD students and low socioeconomic status (SES)students.

This article first focuses on recruitment and retention issues(acknowledging that most of the scholarship has concentrated onrecruitment) and then offers specific recommendations to guide educatorsin eliminating barriers and opening doors to gifted education for CLDstudents. We examine the education literature regarding the variousconditions that hinder the representation of CLD students in giftedprograms nationally, relying heavily on publications and studies thataddress the impact of perceptions on behavior, such as teacherexpectancy theory and student achievement and outcomes (Merton, 1948;Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968). We suggest that deficit thinking andthe use of traditional tests (especially IQ tests) and lack of teacherreferral of CLD students for gifted education screening and placementare the primary contributing factors to underrepresentation. In theprocess of reviewing the literature, we attend to the larger question ofthe impact of testing instruments and policies and procedures (particularly teacher referrals) on underrepresentation. Further, weconsider what school personnel (teachers, school counselors, andadministrators) can do to both recruit and retain CLD students in giftededucation.

UNDERREPRESENTATION: RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION ISSUES

A lack of incentive and opportunity limits the possibility of highachievement, however superior one's gifts may be. Follow-up studiesof highly gifted young African Americans, for instance, reveal ashocking waste of talent--a waste that adds an incalculable amount tothe price of prejudice in this country (Educational Policies Commission,1950).

To date, a disproportionate amount of the literature focuses on therecruitment aspect of underrepresentation, and particularly onintelligence tests and lack of teacher referral (Ford, 1994, 2004). Thepreponderance of research and scholarship indicates that poor IQ testperformance by CLD students and low teacher expectations for theseyoungsters are the most salient reasons African American,Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian students are underrepresented ingifted education (Baldwin, 2005; Castellano & Diaz, 2001; Elhoweris,Kagendo, Negmeldin, & Holloway, 2005; Ford, 2004; Ford &Grantham, 2003; Frasier, Garcia, & Passow, 1995; Whiting & Ford,2006).

Over a decade ago, Ford (1994) proposed that to improve therepresentation of African American and other CLD students in giftededucation, educational professionals (i.e., teachers, school counselors,administrators, policy makers, etc.) needed to focus on retention aswell as recruitment. She advocated following initiatives in highereducation that went beyond the concept of "recruitment"(finding and placing students in gifted education) to focus on gettingand then keeping CLD students in gifted education. Specifically,educators should (a) find effective measures, strategies, policies andprocedures to better recruit CLD students; (b) find more effective andinclusive ways of retaining these students in gifted programs oncerecruited; and (c) collect data on factors affecting both therecruitment and retention of CLD students in gifted education in orderto more completely understand and redress the issue. Karnes et al.(1997) and Marquardt and Karnes (1994) offered similar recommendationsafter reviewing OCR letters of findings.

In 2004, Ford reported that the notion of retention continued to beneglected when considering underrepresentation. This lack of attentionto keeping CLD students in gifted programs and AP classes contributes tounderrepresentation (Ford, 1996). Retention issues often fall into threecategories: (a) social-emotional needs expressed by students, includingrelationships between CLD students, and with their classmates andteachers (Harmon, 2002; Louie, 2005); (b) concerns expressed by CLDfamilies regarding their children's happiness and sense ofbelonging (Boutte, 1992; Huff, Houskamp, Watkins, Stanton, &Tavegia, 2005); and (c) CLD students performing at acceptableachievement levels (Ford, 1996). For example, a Latino/a student maywithdraw from an AP class for any number of reasons--including feelingsof isolation from educators and/or classmates, the majority of whom arelikely to be White. Similarly, African American parents may feel forcedto withdraw their child from such classes because their child complainsof being treated unfairly and not fitting in with other students.Another possible case would be one in which a teacher requests removalof an American Indian student from gifted education or AP classes,attributing the student's low grades to misidentification and errorin placement.

Resolving the underrepresentation problem is not easy; there are noquick fixes. To begin this process, however, educators--teachers, schoolcounselors, and administrators--must consider the following question:"How can we improve access to gifted education for CLD students,and once we successfully recruit them, how can we successfully retainthem?"

Intentionally or unintentionally, gifted education and AP classesremain culturally, linguistically, and economically segregated (U.S.Department of Education, 1993, 2002; see also Table 1), still largelypopulated by White students in general and White middle-class studentsin particular. Recommendations regarding how to "desegregate"gifted education vary (Ford & Webb, 1994), but they share the goalof finding alternative ways--more valid and reliable instruments,processes and procedures--to equitably recruit and retain CLD giftedstudents. These options include culturally sensitive instruments (e.g.,nonverbal tests), multidimensional assessment strategies, and broaderphilosophies, definitions, and theories of giftedness (Baldwin, 2005;Ford, 2005; Frasier et al., 1995; Milner & Ford, 2007; Naglieri& Ford, 2003, 2005; Sternberg, 2007).

Although most of the available literature focuses on recruitment,pointing to testing and assessment issues as primarily contributing tounderrepresentation, we believe that underrepresentation is a symptom ofa larger social problem, as discussed by Harry (2008). More directly,the main obstacle to the recruitment and retention of CLD students ingifted education appears to be a deficit orientation that persists insociety and seeps into its educational institutions and programs (Ford& Grantham, 2003; Ford, Moore, & Milner, 2005; Moore et al.,2006).

DEFICIT THINKING: DENYING ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITY

The United States has a long history of fraudulent research, works,theories, paradigms, and conjecture that promotes deficit thinking aboutCLD groups, especially African Americans. Early in our history, AfricanAmericans and Latinos/as were deemed "genetically inferior";later, they were viewed as "culturally deprived" or"culturally disadvantaged" (Gould, 1995; Valencia, 1997). Themore recent and neutral nomenclature is that CLD groups are"culturally different." Unfortunately, the arguments have gonefull circle, with some recent literature reverting to geneticinferiority and cultural deprivation (e.g., Herrnstein & Murray,1994) as the primary or sole explanation for the achievement gap andlower test scores of CLD students. (For a detailed examination of thisissue, see Gould, 1995; Valencia, 1997.)

Deficit thinking is negative, stereotypical, and prejudicial beliefs about CLD groups that result in discriminatory policies andbehaviors or actions. Deficit thinking and resignation are reflected inthe statement of two participants interviewed by Garcia and Guerra(2004) who believed that the success of some children is set early andit is irrevocable: "Some children are already so harmed by theirlives that they cannot perform at the same level as otherchildren," and "[i]f those neurons don't start firing at8 or 9 months, it's never going to happen. So, we've got someconnections that weren't made and they can't be made up"(p. 160).

According to Valencia (1997), "the deficit thinking paradigmposits that students who fail in school do so because of allegedinternal deficiencies, such as cognitive and/or motivationallimitations, or shortcomings socially linked to the youngster--such asfamilial deficits and dysfunctions" (p. xi). Such thinking inhibitsindividuals from seeing strengths in people who are different from them;instead, attention centers on what is "wrong" with the"different" individual or group, having low expectations forthem, feeling little to no obligation to assist them, and feelingsuperior to them. Deficit thinking, subsequently, hinders meaningfuleducational change and reform because educators are unwilling to assumeor share any responsibility for CLD students' poor schoolperformance and outcomes (Berman & Chambliss, 2000; Garcia &Guerra, 2004).

Like other types of thinking, deficit thinking affects behavior:People act upon their thoughts and beliefs. Consequent behaviors include(but are not limited to) a heavy reliance on tests with littleconsideration of biases, low referral rates of CLD students for giftededucation services, and the adoption of policies and procedures thathave a disparate impact on CLD students.

As Harry (2008) notes, deficit orientations go beyond thoughts,attitudes, and values; deficit-based orientations are evident inbehaviors and actions. Specifically, ideas about group differences incapacity and potential influence the development of definitions,policies, and practices and how they are implemented. Gould (1981, 1995)and Menchaca (1997) noted that deficit thinking contributed to past (andcurrent) beliefs about race, culture, achievement, and intelligence.Gould's work helped to establish the reality that researchers orscientists are not objective, bias-free persons, and that preconceptionsand fears about CLD groups (particularly African Americans) have led topolemical and prejudicial research methods, deliberate miscalculations,convenient omissions, and data misinterpretation among scientistsstudying intelligence. These prejudgments and related practices pavedthe way for the prevalent belief that human races could be ranked on alinear scale of mental worth (Gould, 1981, 1995).

Menchaca (1997) traced the evolution of deficit thinking anddemonstrated how it influenced segregation in schools (e.g., Plessy v.Ferguson, 1896) and resistance to desegregation during the Civil Rightsera and today. Some scholars have concluded that educators continue toresist desegregation, and use tracking and ability grouping to raciallysegregate students (e.g., Ford & Webb, 1994; Losen & Orfield,2002; Oakes, 1985; Orfield & Lee, 2006). Accordingly, it seemsreasonable to argue that much of the underrepresentation problem ingifted education stems from deficit thinking orientations. The impact ofdeficit thinking on gifted education underrepresentation should be clearwhen one considers how the terms giftedness and intelligence are usedinterchangeably, how both are subjective or social constructs (e.g.,Sternberg, 2007), and how highly the educational elite and middle classprize gifted programs (e.g., Sapon-Shevin, 1994).

In this article we address four major symptoms or resultantbehaviors of deficit thinking: (a) the reliance on traditional IQ-baseddefinitions, philosophies, and theories of giftedness; (b) thedependence on identification practices and policies that have adisproportionately negative impact on diverse students (e.g., a relianceon teacher referral for initial screening); (c) the lack of commitmentto helping educators become better prepared in gifted education; and (d)the lack of commitment among administrators to preparing educators towork competently with CLD students, which results in the inadequatetraining of teachers and other school personnel in multiculturaleducation.

DEFINITIONS, TESTING, AND ASSESSMENT

IQ-BASED DEFINITIONS AND THEORIES

Debates are pervasive in education regarding how best to define theterms intelligent, gifted, and talented. A 1998 national survey of statedefinitions of gifted and talented students (Stephens & Karnes,2000) revealed great differences and inconsistencies among the 50 statesin their definitions. Most used the 1978 federal definition, whichincludes intellectual, creative, academic, leadership, and artisticcategories. Other states have adopted either definitions derived fromthe Javits Act (1994), a definition created by Renzulli (1978), or themost recent federal definition (U.S. Department of Education, 1993).Some states do not have a definition (see Davidson Institute, 2006).Further, most states continue--despite recognizing more than one type ofgiftedness--to assess giftedness unidimensionally, that is, as afunction of high IQ or achievement test scores. Such test-drivendefinitions may be effective at identifying middle-class White students(Sternberg, 2007), but they too infrequently capture giftedness amongstudents who (a) perform poorly on paper-and-pencil tasks conducted inartificial or lab-like settings (Helms, 1992; Miller-Jones, 1989); (b)do not perform well on culturally loaded tests (e.g., Fagan &Holland, 2002; Flanagan & Ortiz, 2001; Kaufman, 1994; Sternberg,2007); (c) have learning and/or cognitive styles that are different fromWhite students (e.g., Hale, 2001; Helms, 1992; Hilliard, 1992; Shade,Kelly, & Oberg, 1997); (d) have test anxiety or suffer fromstereotype threat (Aronson, Fried, & Good, 2002; Aronson &Steele, 2005; Steele, 1997; Steele & Aronson, 1995); or (e) have lowacademic motivation or engagement while being assessed (e.g., Wechsler,1991).

TESTING AND ASSESSMENT ISSUES

The use of tests to identify and assess students is a pervasiveeducational practice that has increased with recent federal legislationsuch as No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Test scores play the dominantrole in identification and placement decisions. The majority of schooldistricts use intelligence or achievement test scores for recruitment togifted education (Davidson Institute, 2006; Davis & Rimm, 2003).This almost exclusive dependence on test scores for recruitmentdisparately impacts the demographics of gifted programs by keeping themdisproportionately White and middle class. Although traditionalintelligence tests, more or less, effectively identify and assessmiddle-class White students, they have been less effective for AfricanAmerican, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian students (e.g., Helms,1992; Miller-Jones, 1989; Naglieri & Ford, 2005; Skiba, Knesting,& Bush, 2002), including those at higher SES levels. This issueraises a fundamental question based on the Griggs Principle and thenotion of disparate impact (see Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 1971).

In Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971), African American employees atDuke Power's generating plant brought action pursuant to Title VIIof the Civil Rights Act of 1964, challenging the company'srequirement of a high school diploma or passing of intelligence tests asa condition for employment or transfer to jobs at the plant. AfricanAmerican applicants, less likely to hold a high school diploma andaveraging lower scores on the aptitude tests, were selected at a muchlower rate for these positions when compared to White candidates. Thiscase called into question the validity and utility of using tests foremployment decisions. Duke Power had not attempted to demonstrate thatthe requirements were related to job performance. The lower court ruledthat because no evidence of intent to discriminate existed, Duke Powerdid not discriminate. On appeal, however, a unanimous Supreme Courtsided with Griggs, concluding that if a test adversely impacts aprotected class, then the company must demonstrate the job-relatednessof the test used. The Court ruling led to this question: "Ifcertain groups do not perform well on a test, why do we continue to usethe test so exclusively and extensively?"

There are at least three explanations for the poor test performanceof CLD students: (a) the burden rests within the test (e.g., test bias);(b) the burden rests with the educational environment (e.g., poorinstruction and lack of access to high quality education contributes topoor test scores); or (c) the burden rests with (or within) the student(e.g., he/she is cognitively inferior or "culturallydeprived").

The first two explanations recognize the influence of theenvironment (including schools) on test performance and might suggestthat we need to make changes in assessment and educational practicesthat pose barriers to the participation of CLD students in giftededucation, eliminating tests, policies, and procedures that have adisparate impact on CLD students (Karnes et al, 1997; Marquardt &Karnes, 1994; OCR, 2000, 2004, 2005). However, the third explanation ispositioned in deficit thinking. Those who support this view relinquishany accountability for CLD students' underrepresentation and lowertest scores because of the belief that genetics or heredity extensivelydetermines intelligence, that intelligence is static, and that somegroups are simply more intelligent than others (see Herrnstein &Murray, 1994; Jensen, 1981; Rushton, 2003).

Decision makers must appreciate the impact of culture on testscores in order to use the scores in educationally meaningful andequitable ways (Ford, 2004; Ford & Frazier-Trotman, 2000; Helms,1992; Miller-Jones, 1989; Sternberg, 2007). Educators need to understandhow culturally loaded tests can lower CLD students' test scores(Fagan & Holland, 2002; Flanagan & Ortiz, 2001; Skiba et al.,2002). We must be conscientious in seeking to interpret and use testscores sensibly, to explore various explanations for the differentialtest scores, and to consider alternative instruments and assessmentpractices (American Educational Research Association, AmericanPsychological Association, & National Council on Measurement inEducation, 1999).

INEFFECTIVE POLICIES AND PRACTICES

Procedural and policy issues also contribute tounderrepresentation; of these, teacher referral is particularly worthyof attention. The teacher referral process contributes significantly tothe underrepresentation of culturally and linguistically diversestudents in gifted education. Specifically, educators systematicallyunder-refer CLD students for gifted education services (e.g., Saccuzzo,Johnson, & Guertin, 1994). Teacher referral (and its ratingchecklists and forms), intentionally or unintentionally, serves as agatekeeper, closing doors to gifted education classrooms for CLDstudents. The importance of addressing teacher referral as a gatekeeperis not an insignificant matter, as most states rely on teacher referralor completed checklists and forms for selecting students for giftededucation placement (Davidson Institute, 2006; National Association forGifted Children and State Directors of Gifted Education, 2005).Likewise, according to the College Board (2002), access to AP classes isprimarily dependent on faculty recommendations, accounting for almost60% of eventual placement.

The topic of teachers as referral sources for gifted educationassessment and placement falls under the larger umbrella of the teacherexpectations or perceptions, and subsequent student achievement andoutcomes (Merton, 1948; Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968). This body ofwork refers to the extent to which a teacher's a priori judgment ofa student's achievement corresponds to the student'sachievement (e.g., grades) or performance on some formal and objectivemeasure, such as a standardized or achievement-related instrument (Rist,1996; Zucker & Prieto, 1977).

Since at least the 1920s, researchers have examined the efficacy ofteacher judgment when making referrals for gifted education screening,identification, and placement (e.g., Cox & Daniel, 1983; Gagne,1994; Gear, 1976; Hoge & Coladarci, 1989; Pegnato & Birch, 1959;Terman, 1925). Not surprisingly, results have been mixed; some studiesfind teachers to be accurate in their referrals, whereas others findthem to be inaccurate. For example, Terman found that teachersoverlooked up to 25% of students eventually identified as highly giftedon an intelligence test; however, Gagne argued that teachers areeffective and that some of the previous studies were methodologicallyand conceptually flawed. At least four factors appear to contribute tothe differential findings: (a) different instruments used to validateteacher's judgment; (b) different referral forms, checklists, andother forms used by teachers; (c) different populations of giftedstudents being judged (e.g., gifted vs. highly gifted; male vs. female;younger vs. older students; high vs. low SES); and (d) differentmethodologies (e.g., use of vignettes vs. actual student cases).

TEACHER REFERRAL AND CLD STUDENTS

Few studies or literature reviews have focused on teacher referraland identification of gifted students who are culturally andlinguistically diverse. As previously noted, a body of scholarship hasshown that some teachers have negative stereotypes and inaccurateperceptions about the abilities of CLD students--and their families(e.g., Boutte, 1992; Harmon, 2002; Huff et al., 2005; Louie, 2005; Rist,1996; Shumow, 1997). Specifically, it is possible that teachers (thevast majority of whom are White) are more effective at identifyinggiftedness among White students, but less effective with CLD students.On this note, Beady and Hansell (1981) found that African Americanteachers held higher expectations of African American students than didWhite teachers (also see Ladson-Billings, 1994, and Irvine, 2002, onthis issue).

In 1974, Fitz-Gibbons studied different components ofidentification for intellectually gifted low-income minority students inCalifornia, including tests and teacher referral. Relative to teacherreferral, she concluded:

 One might hazard the generalization that when teacher judgments are relied upon for placement or identification it is likely to be the child who does not relate to the teacher who gets overlooked, despite the fact that his achievements and ability are equal to or higher than those of the students recognized as bright. (pp. 61-62)

When CLD students were immature, taciturn, less comfortable withadults, or viewed as affable in some way, they were more likely to beoverlooked by teachers.

Ford (1996) found that most of the African American students in oneof her studies had high test scores--high enough to meet districtcriteria for identification and placement--but they wereunderrepresented in gifted education because teachers did not refer themfor screening. For example, Dawn, an African American eighth grader, notonly had high achievement scores (from the 95th to 99th percentile) eachyear tested, she had a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA, and an IQ score of143. Although Dawn had exceeded the identification and placementcriteria (93rd percentile or higher on any subscale) since the thirdgrade, she was not identified as intellectually or academically gifted,and she had not been referred for screening.

In a study of Hispanic and White students, Plata and Masten (1998)reported that White students were significantly more likely to bereferred than Hispanic students, and White students were rated higher ona rating scale across four areas of giftedness--intelligence,leadership, achievement, and creativity (also see Pfeiffer, Petscher,& Jarosewich, 2007). Forsbach and Pierce (1999), in their sample ofstudents in 199 middle schools in New York, found teacher referralineffective as an identification tool for African American,Hispanic/Latino American, and Asian American students. After formaltraining, however, teachers were more effective at identifying giftedAfrican American students only.

Two recent studies have continued this line of research on teacherreferral and culturally diverse students. Elhoweris, Mutua, Alsheikh,and Holloway (2005) examined the effects of students' ethnicity onteachers' decision making using three vignettes of gifted students.Only the ethnicity of the student in the vignette changed. This impactedteacher referrals; specifically, "elementary school teacherstreated identical information contained in the vignettes differently andmade different recommendations despite the fact that the studentinformation was identical in all ways except for ethnicity" (p.29). Finally, in a study of referral sources using all elementarystudents in the state of Georgia, McBee (2006) reported that teacherreferrals were more effective (accurate) for White and Asian studentsthan for African American and Hispanic/Latino students. McBee concluded:"The results suggest inequalities in nomination, rather thanassessment, may be the primary source of the underrepresentation ofminority ... students in gifted programs" (p. 103). Further, henoted that the findings could be interpreted in several ways, one beingthat "the low rate of teacher nomination could indicate racism,classism, or cultural ignorance on the part of teachers" (p. 109).

(Video) Recognizing Giftedness in Diverse Populations

Shaunessy, McHatton, Hughest, Brice, and Ratliff (2007) focused onthe experiences of bilingual Latino/a students in gifted and generaleducation. Several students in their study believed that being giftedwas special, and being culturally diverse and bilingual added to thatspecialness. One of the students in their study stated:

 You're already special enough [because you are bilingual], but you are extra special because you are also gifted.... Latinos/as are not supposed to do well in school, and that's the expectation. So if you are gifted and Latino/a, then you've exceeded expectations. You feel a sense of pride, because you are doing better than even Americans are doing and you aren't even from here. (p. 177)

These Hispanic/Latino students appeared to believe, as proposed byMilner and Ford (2007) and Sternberg (2007), that cultural diversitycannot be ignored in our ideas, theories, and measures of giftedness, orin eventual placement. Despite the pride expressed by many of thestudents in the study by Shaunessy et al. (2007) about being gifted andculturally and linguistically diverse, all of these CLD youngsters hadfaced some form of discrimination; some students mentioneddiscriminatory school policies, and some did not feel accepted by Whiteteachers and White students, both of whom made disparaging comments tothem about their ethnicity (p. 179). When feeling isolated or rejectedsocially, CLD students and their parents may wish to withdraw theirstudents from gifted education classes (Ford & Milner, 2006).

INADEQUATE TEACHER PREPARATION IN GIFTED EDUCATION ANDMULTICULTURAL EDUCATION

VanTassel-Baska and Stambaugh (2006) recently reported that only 3%of colleges and universities offer courses in gifted education. With sofew opportunities for formal preparation in gifted education, how can weexpect teachers to effectively identify, refer, and teach giftedstudents? This problem is compounded by the lack of teacher training inmulticultural education or cultural diversity. Too few educators, evenat the time of this writing, receive formal and meaningful exposure tomulticultural educational experiences, multicultural curriculum andinstruction, and internships and practicum in urban settings (see Banks,1999, 2006; Banks & Banks, 2006). Frequently, such preparation islimited to one course on diversity (Banks & Banks, 2006). This is a"double whammy" when students are gifted and culturally andlinguistically diverse.

Essentially, future professionals, including education majors atboth the undergraduate and graduate levels, frequently matriculate witha monocultural or ethnocentric curriculum that does not prepare them tounderstand, appreciate, and work with students who are culturally andlinguistically diverse (Banks, 2006). They consequently misunderstand cultural differences among CLD students relative to learning,communication, and behavioral styles. This cultural mismatch or clashbetween educators and students contributes to low teacher expectationsof students, poor student-teacher relationships, mislabeling, andmisinterpretation of behaviors (along with other outcomes), aspreviously noted.

In the Spring 2007 issue of Raeper Review, five of the ninearticles focused on CLD gifted students (Chan, 2007; Milner & Ford,2007; Pfeiffer et al., 2007; Shaunessy et al., 2007; Sternberg, 2007).Sternberg (2007) called for educators to be more proactive inunderstanding and making identification and placement decisions, placingculture at the forefront of our thinking and decisions. His articlepresents a forceful depiction of how culture affects what is valued asgifted and intelligence, how gifts and talents manifest themselvesdifferently across cultures (also see Chan regarding leadership andemotional intelligence among Chinese students), and how our assessmentinstruments and the referral process should be culturally sensitive suchthat they do not hinder the recruitment and retention of CLD students ingifted education (Flanagan & Ortiz, 2001; Skiba et al., 2002;Whiting & Ford, 2006). Similarly, Milner and Ford shared culturalscenarios and models, and urged educators to assertively and proactivelyseek extensive training in cultural and linguistic diversity in order tobecome more culturally competent.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHANGE

To recruit and retain more CLD students in gifted education and APclasses, school personnel and leaders must address low expectations anddeficit thinking orientations, and the impact of such thinking ondecisions, behaviors, and practice. This proactive attitudinal orphilosophical shift increases the probability that educators willaddress all barriers to gifted education for CLD students. Figure 1presents one model for reconceptualizing how educators can acquire thenecessary dispositions, knowledge, and skills and competencies to workwith students who are gifted and culturally and linguistically diverse.The Venn diagram suggests that teachers combine the best of research,policy, and theory in gifted education with the best of research,policy, and theory in multicultural education in order to meet the needsof gifted CLD students. Thus, we must study issues surrounding teacherreferral of gifted students in general, as well as referral issuesspecific to culturally and linguistically diverse students. In otherwords, a cultural lens or frame of reference must always be used toexamine the status of gifted education for students who are gifted aswell as culturally and linguistically diverse. Figure 2 presents anoverview of recruitment and retention barriers, along with suggestedrecommendations for addressing them.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

FIGURE 2Underrepresentation Barriers and RecommendationsBarrier RecommendationTesting and assessment instruments Culturally sensitive measures thatthat contain biases are reduced in cultural demand and linguistic demandPolicies and procedures that are Policies and procedures examinedboth indefensible and have a for biases and negative impact,disparate impact on CLD students including teacher referrals, cut-off scores, weights assigned to items in matrices, and requirements associated with attendance, behavior, and GPAStatic definitions and theories Culturally sensitive definitionsof gifted that give little and theories of gifted;consideration to cultural definitions that recognize howdifferences and that ignore how differential opportunities resultstudents' backgrounds influence in poor outcomes for CLD students;their opportunities to demonstrate definitions that recognize howskills and abilities differences can mask skills and abilitiesLack of teacher training in both Substantive, ongoing preparationgifted education and cultural of teachers in gifted education,diversity, which contributes cultural diversity, linguisticdeficit thinking about CLD diversity, and economic diversitystudents

ADOPT CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE THEORIES AND DEFINITIONS OF GIFTEDNESS

Although the federal government does not mandate gifted educationservices, it does propose definitions. In 1993, the U.S. Department ofEducation offered its most culturally responsive definition of gifted todate:

 Children and youth with outstanding talent perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. These children and youth exhibit high performance capacity in intellectual, creative, and/or artistic areas, and unusual leadership capacity, or excel in specific academic fields. They require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the schools. Outstanding talents are present in children and youth from all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor. (p. 19, emphases added)

This definition should appeal to those who are responsible forrecruiting and retaining students into gifted education. First, theconcept of talent development is a major focus of the definition. Itrecognizes that many students have had inadequate opportunities todevelop and perform at high academic levels. For example, many students,especially those who live in poverty, lack exposure to books and otherliterature, they may not visit libraries or bookstores, and they oftenmiss out on other meaningful educational experiences (Hart & Risley,1995). Accordingly, the federal definition recognizes that studentscoming from high SES homes are likely to have such opportunities, whichare likely to contribute to the fruition of their giftedness.

Further, the federal definition recognizes that some students facemore barriers in life than others (including racial discrimination andprejudice). Discrimination and prejudice weigh heavily on themotivation, aspirations, and mental health (i.e., self-esteem,self-concept and racial identity) of CLD students and adults (e.g.,Cross & Vandiver, 2001; Sue et al., 2007). Stated another way,discrimination places these students--at all levels of intelligence--atgreater risk for low achievement, academic disengagement, schoolfailure, and other social ills that have been described elsewhere(Allport, 1954; Constantine, 2007; Ford, Moore, & Whiting, 2006;Merton, 1948; Sue et al.). Two theories of intelligence show potentialfor recruiting and retaining CLD students in gifted education; boththeories assert that "gifted" is a social construct, thatdefinitions and views of giftedness vary from culture to culture, andthat giftedness is not easily quantifiable and easily measured by tests(see Sternberg, 2007; Whiting & Ford, 2006). What is viewed asgifted in one culture may not be viewed and valued as gifted in anotherculture, and how giftedness is measured among different cultural groupsvaries as well. Our point here is to suggest that alternative theoriesand models of giftedness are needed that are sensitive to culturaldifferences.

Sternberg's (1985) Triarchic Theory of Intelligence proposesthat intelligence is multidimensional and dynamic, and that no one typeof intelligence or talent is superior to another. The theory holds thatintelligence manifests itself in at least three ways: (a)componentially, (b) experientially, and (c) contextually. Componentiallearners are analytical and abstract thinkers who do well academically,and on achievement and standardized tests. Experiential learners valuecreativity and enjoy novelty. They often dislike rules and follow few oftheir own; they see rules as inconveniences meant to be broken.Contextual learners readily adapt to their environments (one of manyskills that IQ tests fail to measure). They are street-smart andsurvivors, socially competent and practical, but they may not be highachievers in school. Gardner (1983) defined intelligence as the abilityto solve problems or to fashion products valued in one or more culturalsettings, a stipulation that does not get much attention in otherdefinitions. In his Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardnerdifferentiated seven types of intelligences: linguistic,logical-mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily kinesthetic,spatial, and musical. Each type of intelligence comprises distinct formsof perception, memory, and other psychological processes.

Both of these theories are inclusive, comprehensive, and culturallysensitive; they are flexible and dynamic theories which contend thatgiftedness is a sociocultural construct that manifests itself in manyways and means different things to different cultural and linguisticgroups. The theorists recognize the many-sided and complex nature ofintelligence and how current tests (which are too simplistic and static)fail to do justice to this construct (Ford, 2004; Gould, 1995;Sternberg, 2007).

IDENTIFY AND SERVE GIFTED UNDERACHIEVERS

Related to this notion of talent development, it is important toconsider gifted underachievers when discussing underrepresentation. Someperspectives specify that gifted students must be high achievers,equating giftedness with achievement or demonstrated performance. Inschools that follow this philosophy, gifted students must demonstratehigh achievement, otherwise they are unlikely to be identified or keptin gifted programs if their grades or test scores fall below a certainlevel. When one makes giftedness synonymous with achievement, giftedunderachievers will be neither recruited nor retained. This has keyimplications for CLD students, too many of whom have lower grades andachievement scores than their White classmates. A wealth of reportsunder the topic of the achievement gap suggests that this problem cannotbe ignored.

ADOPT CULTURALLY SENSITIVE INSTRUMENTS

The most promising instruments for assessing the strengths of CLDstudents are nonverbal tests of intelligence, such as the NaglieriNon-Verbal Ability Test (NNAT; Naglieri, 1997), Universal Non-VerbalIntelligence Test (Bracken & McCallum, 1998), and Raven'sProgressive Matrices (Raven, Raven, & Court, 2003). These tests areconsidered less culturally loaded than traditional tests (see Flanagan& Ortiz, 2001; Kaufman, 1994; Naglieri & Ford, 2003, 2005;Saccuzzo et al., 1994) and thus hold promise for more effectivelyassessing the cognitive strengths of CLD students. Saccuzzo et al., forinstance, identified substantially more Black and Hispanic studentsusing Ravens than using a traditional test, and reported that "50%of the non-White children who had failed to qualify based on a WISC-Rqualified with the Raven" (p. 10), deciding that "the Raven isa far better measure of pure potential than tests such as the WISC-R,whose scores depend heavily on acquired knowledge" (p. 10). Morerecently, Naglieri and Ford (2003) reported that CLD students hadcomparable scores to White students on the NNAT, with IQs ranging from96 to 99. This three-point difference is markedly less than thefrequently reported 15-point gap that exists on traditional IQ testsbetween Black and White students. These nonverbal tests give studentsopportunities to demonstrate their intelligence without the confoundinginfluence of language, vocabulary, and academic exposure. Fagan andHolland (2002) conducted several studies showing that CLD students getcomparable scores to White students when there is an equal opportunityto learn the material, specifically vocabulary and language skills.

PROVIDE GIFTED EDUCATION PREPARATION FOR EDUCATORS

Few teachers have formal preparation in gifted education, leadingus to question the extent to which teachers understand giftedness, arefamiliar with characteristics and needs of gifted students, areeffective at referring students for gifted education screening andplacement, and whether they can teach and challenge such students onceplaced.

We recommend that teachers take advantage of opportunities tobecome more competent in gifted education, by enrolling in any relevantcourses at local colleges and by attending professional developmentworkshops and conferences in gifted education, such as the NationalAssociation for Gifted Children, Council for Exceptional Children(Talented and Gifted Summer Institute for the Gifted, SIG), and stateand regional gifted conferences. Potential topics include definitionsand theories of giftedness; identification and assessment; policies andpractices; cross-cultural assessment, characteristics and needs ofgifted students (e.g., intellectual, academic, social/emotional);curriculum and instruction; programming options; gifted underachievers;talent development; working with families; and underrepresentation.

PROVIDE MULTICULTURAL PREPARATION FOR EDUCATORS

With forecasts projecting a growing CLD student population(Hochschild, 2005), teachers and other educators (e.g., schoolcounselors and administrators) will have to bear a greaterresponsibility for demonstrating multicultural competence (Banks &Banks, 2006; Ford & Milner, 2006). Multicultural educationpreparation among all school personnel--teachers, school counselors,psychologists, administrators, and support staff--must focus onknowledge, dispositions, and skills. Comprehensive preparation shouldhelp school personnel become culturally competent so that deficitorientations no longer impede diverse students' access to giftededucation. This preparation can increase the recruitment and retentionof CLD students in gifted education--if it permeates educational andprofessional development experiences.

Banks and Banks (2006) offer one model for infusing multiculturalcontent into the curriculum. At the contributions and additive levels,diversity is addressed superficially: Students are exposed to safetopics and issues; diversity permeates only a few courses; andalternative perspectives, paradigms, and theories are avoided. These twolower levels tend to promote or reinforce stereotypes about diversegroups. However, these shortcomings are rectified at the higher levelsof transformation and social action. A transformational curriculumshares multiple perspectives; teachers are encouraged to be empathetic and to infuse multicultural teaching strategies, materials, andresources into all subject areas and topics as often as possible.Finally, teachers can be catalysts, agents of social change; if they aretaught to be empowered, social justice is at the heart of theirteaching. To become more culturally aware, sensitive, and competent,educators must

1. Engage in critical self-examination that explores theirattitudes and perceptions concerning cultural and linguistic diversity,and the influence of these attitudes and perceptions on CLDstudents' achievement and educational opportunities.

2. Acquire accurate information about CLD groups (e.g., histories,cultural styles, values, customs and traditions, child rearingpractices, etc.) and use this information to support and guide studentsas they matriculate through school.

3. Acquire formal and ongoing multicultural preparation in order tomaximize their understanding of and skills at addressing the academic,cognitive, social, psychological, and cultural needs and development ofCLD students.

ONGOING EVALUATION OF UNDERREPRESENTATION

Along with OCR (2000, 2004, 2005), we recommend that educatorsdesign racial equity plans to monitor gifted education data, includingdemographics, referrals, and instruments, all with the notion ofdisparate impact and eventual underrepresentation in mind. These datashould be disaggregated by race, gender, and income level (Black maleson free or reduced lunch vs. White males paying full price, teacherreferral of American Indian males vs. all other males, patterns ofreferral by teacher demographics, patterns of representation acrossgrade levels and school buildings, etc.) and should focus on bothrecruitment and retention barriers (e.g., What percentage of CLDstudents compared to White students leave gifted education and APclasses, and for what reasons? How many complaints are received aboutinequities in gifted education and what is the nature of thesecomplaints?). Other recommendations include

* Changing or eliminating any policies and practices that have adisparate impact on CLD students relative to their representation ingifted education (e.g., teacher referral, family referral, peerreferral, tests, definitions, checklists, nomination forms, views aboutunderachievement).

* Setting concrete and measurable goals for changing thedemographics of gifted education, and otherwise improving theexperiences and outcomes of CLD students.

* Reviewing these goals, plans, policies and practices annually,and making changes where necessary (i.e., retrain teachers and otherschool personnel who do not refer CLD students for gifted educationscreening, adopt alternative assessments, modify screening and placementcriteria, provide different or additional support to CLD students andfamilies, increase or modify professional development in giftededucation and multicultural education).

SUMMARY

Since its development, gifted education has failed to adequatelyprovide access to gifted education and AP classes for students who areculturally and linguistically diverse. African American,Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian students have always been poorlyrepresented in gifted education. We believe that the problem is complex,but not insoluble. Educators, particularly those in positions ofauthority, must explore this complex and pervasive problem, and thenbecome proactive in eliminating all barriers that prevent CLD studentsfrom being recruited and retained in gifted education. Attitudinalchanges are essential, as are changes in instruments, and policies andpractices.

The underrepresentation problem is a result of both recruitmentbarriers and retention barriers; recruitment often receives greaterattention because there is more data and information on this issue. Alack of preparation in and sensitivity to the characteristics of giftedstudents, a lack of understanding of needs and development of gifted CLDstudents, and a lack of attention to multicultural preparation allundermine educators' competency at making fair and equitablereferrals and decisions. All educators--teachers, school counselors, andadministrators--should seriously and honestly examine their respectiveschool context to make changes, and seek the preparation and knowledgenecessary to work with gifted students, CLD students, and gifted CLDstudents. The time to open doors to gifted education and AP classes islong overdue.

Manuscript received September 2006; accepted August 2007.

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DONNA Y. FORD

Vanderbilt University

TAREK C. GRANTHAM

University of Georgia

GILMAN W. WHITING

Vanderbilt University

Address correspondence to Donna Y. Ford, Professor, Department ofSpecial Education, Peabody College of Education, 230 Appleton Place(Peabody Box 228), Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203 (e-mail:donna.ford@ vanderbilt.edu).

DONNA Y. FORD (CEC TN Federation), Professor of Special Education,Peabody College of Education, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,Tennessee. TAREK C. GRANTHAM (CEC GA Federation), Associate Professorand Gifted & Creative Education Program Coordinator, College ofEducation, University of Georgia, Athens. GILMAN W. WHITING (CEC TNFederation), Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies,African American Diaspora Studies Program, Vanderbilt University,Nashville, Tennessee.

TABLE 1Racial and Gender Composition of Gifted Students in 2002 School Gifted Enrollment Enrollment % % % %Race/Ethnicity Female Male Female MaleAmerican Indian/Alaskan Native 0.59 0.62 0.49 0.44Black 8.46 8.70 4.78 3.65Hispanic/Latino 8.67 9.13 5.36 5.05Asian/Pacific Islander 2.14 2.28 3.65 3.43White 28.81 30.61 36.71 35.88Total 48.67 51.33 51.27 48.73 Total % % School Gifted &Race/Ethnicity District TalentedAmerican Indian/Alaskan Native 1.21 0.93Black 17.16 8.43Hispanic/Latino 17.80 10.41Asian/Pacific Islander 4.42 7.64White 59.42 72.59Total 100.00 100.00Note. Data from Elementary and secondary school civil rights survey2002, U.S. Department of Education, 2002.

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