I love teaching in my urban school district. I have been teaching gifted children for over a dozen years now, and more often than not, I find that my classes are different year after year. Some years I have quite a few minorities, and some years I don’t.
I have been reading several blogs and research papers to get my head around this idea that minorities aren’t represented accurately in gifted programming. I truly do feel that this is a valid issue that needs to have attention brought to it.
So here is a few things I have found in my readings about minorities in gifted programming in urban settings:
- Gifted minorities may not test well due to language barriers
- Gifted minorities may not test well due to lack of life experiences
- Many gifted minorities have parents who never went to college or finished high school; they may be the first to do this in their family, so education may not be high on the list
- The test used to screen many urban minorities may not be the correct one to accurately screen for minorities
When you look across your gifted classes as a GIS, or as a coordinator does the percent of minorities that are in you school meet the percent of minorities in your gifted classes? If not, are you concerned? What can you do to help fix this problem?
A few suggestions that I have to help fix this problem are:
- Check your screener tests. Is there a better one that could help with identifying gifted children of minorities?
- Talk to regular education teachers to see if there are minorities who may be showing signs they are gifted, but it isn’t obvious
- Talk to regular education teachers, and express to them negative classroom behaviors may be a sign of a bored child that may be gifted
As a GIS, my passion is to see as many gifted children succeed in class, and ultimately in life. I feel that a great gifted program takes into account all the factors that limit students chances of getting and succeeding in a gifted classroom. Sometimes it changing tests, test scores, or culture. Teaching regular education teachers characteristics of gifted children will always help. Staying in contact with regular education teachers and helping them see some obvious and latent behaviors that can help them recognize and ultimately recommend these students for gifted testing.
What are some things your school district does to ensure gifted minorities are being identified and serviced?
When you look at your gifted class lists, have you ever wondered why you had very few minority students?
This week I came across an email that had a link to an article about minorities in gifted programs that are under-represented. I believe that minorities in gifted programs are under-represented, but I also know that minorities add a great deal of diversity to class.
To begin, I feel that every student should have the opportunity to self-advocate for their education, minority or not. If a student feels that he or she could benefit being in a gifted program they should have the opportunity to test in.
The test that schools use should be chosen based on your student body. I teach in an urban school district. We use the CogAt, NNAT2, OLSAT, and the Gates. We chose those based on the fact that urban students’ minority or not score better on those tests. If you feel that the tests that your school district uses is not fair to minorities then I would challenge you to stand up for your students and advocate for better testing.
I would also look at your districts definition of gifted. Is it broad or narrow? If it is too narrow most likely you will have less minorities. If you feel that it is too narrow, then I would encourage you to discuss with your district ways they can broaden it to give all students a chance to identified and serviced.
According to Dr. Jim Delisle’s book When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers there are many ways to support minority students in your gifted program. Here are a few ways to support minority gifted students:
- Communicate clear high expectations
- Be sensitive to the experiences, beliefs, and cultures of all students
- Encourage students often the importance of college
- Help students to connect with role models and mentors to help them with the challenges and stresses of both school and home
- Reach out to parents and family members for support, but to also communicate your expectations to them
- Provide many different learning opportunities for students in and outside of class
- Listen to students fears, concerns, and their experiences about their education
What are you doing to help minorities to be more prevalent in your gifted program? Are you seeking out the recommendations of teachers, parents, and administrators who may know about minorities that would qualify for gifted services but may have been overlooked? If not, hope you do. If you are keep it up.