Students in underserved populations are 25% to 50% less likely to be identified as gifted than those from higher-income groups, a study by the National Center for Research on Gifted Education finds. The underserved groups include African Americans, Latinx, English learners and those qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch.
Assessments focused on students’ soft skills, interests, motivations and curiosity can predict abilities better than high standardized test scores, the University of Connecticut's Joseph Renzulli and Sally M. Reis write in District Administration, noting also that educators should work to develop "gifted" behaviors seen in students, as they are prized attributes to employers.
The two suggest students’ strengths and interests should be the key component of determining those given advanced learning and creative opportunities.
The University of Connecticut’s Schoolwide Enrichment Model uses a digital survey of all students’ co-cognitive characteristics through which it develops a strength profile for each student. That profile is used to identify who should be offered advanced learning experiences. With technology changing the world, Renzulli and Reis say assessments that determine future leaders must evolve to keep up with the worldwide transformation of the workplace.
Gifted and talented programs are made up of mostly white, affluent students, according to research published in Harvard Educational Review. Some districts are trying to change the demographics by screening all students for gifted programs and by using assessments that don’t favor English speakers.
Teachers in Kentucky’s Jefferson County School District use “response lessons” that help identify gifted and talented students who may otherwise be missed. The approach includes introducing students to a novel concept to which they likely know nothing about. Teachers are trained to assess how students respond to the new information and their level of creativity in solving the problems.
The Student Diversity Advisory Group in New York City, meanwhile, has recommended scrapping the city’s gifted programs altogether, as well as its selective admission process at most schools. Though the push to eliminate the programs is meant to protect minority students, some black and Latinx families want to preserve these programs.