In 1986, 30% of the student population attending public schools was composed of minority students--Native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans--while minority students totaled only 18% of identified gifted students (Yancey, 1990). Greater attention has been given to gifted minorities since the early 1980s, and current literature continues to underscore the problems faced by gifted minority students. Issues involved in the identification of these students have received much attention because meeting the needs of gifted minorities is clearly impossible if their giftedness remains unrecognized.
CURRENT PROBLEMS WITH THE IDENTIFICATION OF GIFTED MINORITY STUDENTS
Many authors have lamented the underrepresentation of minorities in gifted programs (Adams, 1990; Frasier, 1991a, 1992; Harris & Ford, 1991; Kitano, 1991; Perrine, 1989; Rhodes, 1992; Yancey, 1990). Kitano notes the discrepancy between the number of culturally diverse students attending schools and the number being served by programs for the gifted based upon data from seven states. A cause of this underrepresentation may be an overreliance upon standardized tests in formal identification programs (Balzer & Siewert, 1990; Borland & Wright, 1994; Harris & Ford, 1991; Patton, 1992) since standardized tests are often perceived to be culturally-biased (Darling-Hammond, 1994; Garcia, 1994; Garcia & Pearson, 1994). For example, Rhodes argues that standardized tests are based upon middle-class mainstream values, a cultural bias that Hadaway and Marek-Schroer (1992) believe causes the failure of standardized tests to identify many gifted students.
Rhodes (1992) also cited teacher bias as a barrier to the identification of gifted minority students. She argues that some educators do not believe that minorities can be gifted and are, therefore, unwilling and unable to recognize giftedness in minority students. Zappia (1989) contended that the entire identification process is affected by cultural bias, discouraging the identification of gifted Hispanic students throughout each stage of the process.
ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT STRATEGIES FOR IDENTIFYING GIFTED MINORITY STUDENTS
Literature supports the use of multiple criteria assessment (i.e., using a variety of assessment approaches) for enhancing the identification of gifted minority students (Chen, 1989; Cohen, 1990; Coleman & Gallagher, 1992; Hadaway & Marek-Schroer, 1992; Kitano, 1991). Kirschenbaum (1989) proposed the use of a "funnel approach" in the identification of gifted Native Americans. This approach includes more students in the screening process and requires reliance upon a variety of sources of information concerning potentially gifted Native American students. Rhodes (1992) suggested that assessment should emphasize the individual student and recommended a case study approach to the identification of giftedness in minority students. Yancey (1990) also advocated a case study approach and stressed the need for informal identification procedures such as checklists, rating scales, and nominations, including self-nominations.
A case study approach to identification, or any other multiple criteria assessment process, is dependent on the use of a variety of information sources. Several authors recommend the use of a variety of nominations and referrals during the identification process (Adams, 1990; Balzer & Siewert, 1990; Frasier, 1989, 1991b, 1992; Montgomery, 1989). Frasier (1991b) stressed the need to look beyond "paper" information, such as that found in standardized tests, to "people" information, such as that found in nominations, and also advocated the use of a variety of people sources--teachers, parents, persons in the students' communities, and peers (Frasier, 1989, 1992). Adams (1990) argued that children often can identify their bright peers, and that they may be less biased toward cultural differences than their teachers, a position shared by several other authors (Hadaway & Marek-Schroer, 1992; Rhodes, 1992). …