Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Finding Gifted Kids

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Finding Gifted Kids

Article excerpt

IN THE RESEARCH literature of gifted and talented education, a 1959 study by C. W. Pegnato and J. W. Birch, published in Exceptional Children, is often cited as showing that teacher nominations are not an appropriate means of identifying gifted and talented students. "Teachers do not locate gifted children effectively or efficiently enough to place much reliance on them for screening," reads one salient sentence. Some view the study as a milestone in research on the gifted. But in the summer 1994 issue of Gifted Child Quarterly, Francoys Gagne of the Universite de Quebec a Montreal reveals that a methodological flaw misdirected the researchers to their famous conclusion.

Pegnato and Birch defined the effectiveness of a screening method as the percentage of gifted students it located. They defined efficiency in terms of how many identified students were "really" gifted. The criterion for being "really" gifted in the study was the student's score on the individually administered Stanford-Binet test of intelligence. Pegnato and Birch compared the effectiveness and efficiency of Otis group I.Q. tests, of achievement tests, of selection for the honor roll or student council, and of teacher judgment, along with judgments about creativity in art and music.

Of the 786 children identified as gifted by at least one of these other means, the Stanford-Binet identified 91 as "really" gifted -- that is, having an I.Q. of 136 or higher. The problem lies in the way the two concepts of effectiveness and efficiency were operationalized. To be deemed 100% efficient, a method had to identify no more than 91 students (since there are only 91 "really" gifted students in the study). …

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