Selecting for Ethnically Diverse Children Who May Be Gifted Using Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices and Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test

Article excerpt

The identification of ethnically diverse students who are gifted has become a topic of great concern in the educational arena. Over the past few decades there has been increasing concern about the under-representation of ethnically diverse students in programs for gifted and talented students (e.g., Chambers, Barron, & Sprecher, 1980; Hadaway & Marek-Shroer, 1992; Karnes & Whorton, 1988; Mills & Tissot, 1995; Stephens, Kiger, Karnes, & Whorton, 1999; Shaunessy, Karnes, & Cobb, 2004).

Numerous programs have been developed to provide assistance to ethnically diverse students experiencing academic difficulties, yet few programs have focused on identifying and providing appropriately high level instruction for ethnically diverse children who are gifted. An immeasurable amount of talent is left unrecognized and under-developed as these children continue to be excluded from many gifted programs. According to Ford (1996), African American, Hispanic American, and Native American gifted students may be under-representation by as much as 50%.

Many explanations have been suggested for this under-representation of ethnically diverse students in gifted and talented programs. The screening and identification process for high-ability learners has come under scrutiny in the search for answers. In particular, it has been suggested that traditional measures of cognitive abilities are biased against certain groups of students (e.g., Chambers et al., 1980; Hadaway & Marek-Shroer, 1992; Johnsen, 2004; Karnes & Whorton, 1988; Mills & Tissot, 1995; Stephens et al., 1999).

The traditional measures of cognitive abilities in question include IQ tests, standardized achievement tests, and aptitude tests. Chambers et al. (1980) and Stephens et al. (1999) report that many of these tests are culturally loaded verbal assessment devices that do not take into consideration the colloquial language used by many culturally different children.

A second explanation for the underrepresentation of ethnically diverse children in gifted education programs is that many of these children may not have acquired the skills necessary to be successful in demanding programs for gifted students (Mills, Stork, & Krug, 1992; Mills & Tissot, 1995). Many of the under-represented students can be considered educationally disadvantaged as a result of educational, linguistic, cultural, and other environmental factors, causing disparity in test performance. These differences could be a result of inconsistencies in skill acquisition at the time of the test, and not test bias (Mills et al., 1992; Mills & Tissot, 1995).

Inadequate academic preparation may be the reason many ethnically diverse children who may be gifted fail to be identi- fied with traditional forms of assessment. These children may not have acquired the knowledge base necessary to be identified for programs that build upon previously learned academic skills. According to the Javits federal definition found in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001), giftedness refers to

students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities. (Pub. L. No. 107-110, Title IX)

Since gifted learners can be found in any population, there are ethnically diverse students who could possess the cognitive skills necessary to succeed in programs for gifted learners; however, if they have any academic skill deficiencies, they may need interventions to help them develop their potential (Karnes & Whorton, 1988; Mills et al., 1992; Mills & Tissot, 1995).

Ethnically diverse students who are gifted can be successful in programs for academically talented students if they are first prepared for the program. …