Academic journal article Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

DISCOVER in High School: Identifying Gifted Hispanic and Native American Students

Academic journal article Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

DISCOVER in High School: Identifying Gifted Hispanic and Native American Students

Article excerpt

Based on Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, the DISCOVER assessment was designed to identify gifted minority students for placement into programs for the gifted. In previous studies, the reliability and validity of the assessment in elementary grades were examined and yielded mostly positive results. In this study, similar analyses were carried out to investigate some validity aspects of DISCOVER with secondary students. The sample consisted of 303 predominantly Hispanic and Native American ninth graders. The results provided evidence for an alignment of the assessment with the theory of multiple intelligences. Also, no overall gender or ethnic differences were found in the numbers of students identified. In addition, the results suggested that the use of the DISCOVER assessment might help in reducing the problem of minority students' under-representation in programs for the gifted, as 29.3% of the high school students who participated in this study were identified as gifted.

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The field of education has witnessed lately a rise in the use of authentic assessment, also called alternative and performance-based assessment. Many educators have advocated replacing standardized tests with these new instruments which are considered to be more appealing, closer to lifelike situations, and problem-based rather than knowledge-based (Baldwin, 1985; Ford & Harmon, 2001; Maker, 1996, Sarouphim, 1999a). Also, studies have shown that minority students fare better on these measures than on traditional standardized tests (Borland & Wright, 1994; Clasen, Middleton, & Connell, 1994; Reid, Udall, Romanoff, & Algozzine, 1999; Sarouphim, 2001), a factor that gained authentic assessment the reputation of being culturally fair and spread its use among culturally diverse groups.

In assessing giftedness, a long-standing problem has been the under-representation of minority students in programs for the gifted (Coleman & Gallagher, 1995; Gardner, 1995; Maker, 1996). Demographics on gifted education have shown that the students underrepresented are Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans, but not Asian Americans (Ford & Harmon, 2001; Hunsaker, 1994). In 1997, the National Association for Gifted Children requested educators to consider multiple criteria for identification and to practice equity in their placement decisions. However, despite sustained efforts, the under-representation of culturally diverse students still persists in today's schools. Reid et al. (1999) stared that only about 8% of minority students qualify for placement in programs for the gifted across the country. Many educators concur that the main reason for this injustice is the use of inadequate identification procedures (Clasen et al., 1994; Cummins, 1991; Ford & Harmon). The criterion adopted for identification is, in most states, high scores (97th percentile) on standardized tests. Around 90% of school districts use the scores of intelligence or achievement tests for placement purposes, which keeps the demographics of gifted programs primarily White and middle class because, more often than not, minority and economically disadvantaged students do not score high on those standardized tests (Baker, 1996; Ford & Harmon).

Hunsaker (1994) found that testing and identification policies were the major factors hindering the access of diverse and economically disadvantaged students to gifted programs. In a study conducted on 13 districts serving mostly underprivileged and geographically isolated students, Hunsaker surveyed 39 school sites in an attempt to determine which groups of students were underrepresented, what were the means used to increase their representation, and what were the factors that facilitated or hindered access to programs for the gifted. The results revealed that ethnic/linguistic minorities were the groups most underrepresented. …

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