Today, we will discuss the characteristics of African American gifted students and hopefully leave here with a changed perspective that they, like any other child, do not show their abilities in the same ways. Gifted African American students are among the highest group that are overlooked for receiving services they need.
There are many reasons why African American students are not identified for gifted services. We will look at just three causes of this under-representation. These causes stem from the fact that African American students possess characteristics that do not “look” like characteristics educators normally associate with gifted and talented children. Many teachers have an exclusive perception of giftedness that has been formed over the years based on previous experiences that are usually void of proper training.
How many of you knew there was a national definition for giftedness? There is also a state definition. Does anyone want to tell me or guess what the definition says? Understanding these definitions will enable us to broaden our perspective of giftedness. What type of requirements do you think are in these definitions?
(Allow time to read) Can anyone see where a person’s interpretation of this definition may be different than the educator sitting next to them? Who would like to share how they think a student might show “ evidence of high performance capability ” in your classroom? Does everyone totally agree with that interpretation? Of course not. Interpretations are influenced by who we are.
The national definition allows for a child to show “capability.” – As you can see, our state allows a child to have “potential” to perform. What is the difference between these two terms?
How many of you thought students had to produce some type of concrete evidence of high achievement such as academically superior grades or test scores before they could possibly be referred for gifted services? Now that you know it can also be evidence that you’ve seen potential or capability in a student’s abilities, will you look at your students with a different perspective? How will you look at your African American students now in terms of exceptional potential?
Now we know the definition of giftedness let’s look at reason #2 for under-representation of African American children in gifted programs. African American students are at an immediate disadvantage for meeting present eligibility criteria for gifted programs. Most states rely heavily on nationally normed test scores. Are they supposed to perform well on tests created by and for a culture to which they do not belong? Neither of the national or state definitions we just reviewed require proven achievement evidenced by high scores on norm-referenced tests yet most educators believe that referrals to a gifted program must be based on these test scores and/or good grades.
In addition to being disadvantaged because of culturally biased tests, these students carry yet another disadvantage – Their culture influences the way they learn and our culture influences the way we teach. Thus, mismatch between learning styles and teaching styles can result in confusion, frustration, and underachievement for gifted minority students. It is important that these children have educators that know how to “fully develop their capabilities.” Our teaching styles must connect with their learning styles. Does anyone have an African American or minority student that you consider an “underachiever?”
There’s that word again – “potential.” Minority gifted students are often underachievers. Have you thought of any students that you think may be underachievers? Are you likely to refer a student you consider to be an underachiever to your school’s gifted program?
Before we cover the last reason for under-representation of African American students, I want to ask a question. How does a student get referred in the first place? (click to show answers after discussion). Guess who is responsible for a majority of all gifted referrals. (click again to highlight – “teachers”) Yes, teachers.
Doesn’t it make sense to train professionals who are mostly responsible for deciding which children will be referred for gifted services and which children will not be referred? Teachers not only have the power to refer a child but also complete a traits, aptitudes, and behavior sheet (TABs) which can greatly influence a child’s eligibility for the program. I believe teachers possess knowledge of their own students that should make them one of the best referral sources for gifted education. So . . . why does the research think teachers need training?
And the research says . . . !
(Ask for comments or questions after reviewing last two slides.)
This is the challenging part of our jobs. What do we need to do to meet the needs of students who come from a totally different culture (worlds) from our own?
These are some characteristics that may help you with identification of your African American students. Can you think of a student that may possess one or more of these traits?
It is not a matter of fault. It’s not the student’s fault for not performing the way everyone else does. It’s not the teacher’s fault for following her professional judgments and life experiences when no professional training as been offered. It is a matter of perspectives. Perspectives can be changed with willingness and knowledge – on both sides. It just so happens that we are the ones who chose to deliver the knowledge so our perspectives must change first.
Atypical presentation identifying african american gifted
Identifying the Giftedness in African American Students Presented by: Leslie Mattox SPE 524
First, you should know . . . <ul><li>Black students represent 17.13% of the public school population, but only 9.15% of those are in gifted education. </li></ul><ul><li>This represents a 47% discrepancy. </li></ul><ul><li>Specifically, these unidentified students equate to over 250,000 Black students who are not participating in gifted education. </li></ul><ul><li>Gifted Education Press Quarterly SUMMER 2010 Vol. 24, No. 3 </li></ul>
Reasons why African American students are under-represented in gifted programs: <ul><li>1. Lack of clarity regarding a definition of giftedness, particularly regarding African American perspectives </li></ul>
National Definition <ul><li>“The term “gifted and talented students” means children and youth who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities.” </li></ul>
State Definition <ul><li>Intellectually gifted children and youth are those who perform or who have demonstrated the potential to perform at high levels in academic or creative fields when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. These children and youth require services not ordinarily provided by the regular school program. Children and youth possessing these abilities can be found in all populations, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor. </li></ul>
Clarification <ul><li>Capability : a feature or faculty capable of development : potentiality </li></ul><ul><li>Potential : existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality </li></ul>
Reasons why African American students are under-represented in gifted programs: <ul><li>2. Poor performance on achievement and/or aptitude tests </li></ul>Minority students have cultural deficits that contribute to poor performance Tests are culturally bias because they are normed on a sample of all White or predominately White students
What they need and what we provide. <ul><li>Research indicates that Black students tend to be field-dependent, visual, and concrete learners. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers tend to use methods of instruction that are more verbal, abstract, and decontextualized ( to remove from a context) . </li></ul>One result of mismatched learning and teaching styles is underachievement for gifted minority students.
Underachieving Gifted Students <ul><li>Who are the underachievers? </li></ul><ul><li>Students who fail to achieve to his or her potential or does not do as well as expected. </li></ul><ul><li>Ford (1995) found that 46% of the gifted Black students surveyed were underachieving. </li></ul>
A student may be referred for consideration for gifted services by: <ul><li>Teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Counselors </li></ul><ul><li>Administrators </li></ul><ul><li>Parents or guardians </li></ul><ul><li>Peers </li></ul><ul><li>Self </li></ul><ul><li>Other individuals with knowledge of the student’s abilities </li></ul>
Reasons why African American students are under-represented in gifted programs: <ul><li>3. Overreliance on untrained teachers’ input for identification processes </li></ul>
Effects of Teacher Perspectives on Gifted Referrals <ul><li>Numerous studies indicate that teacher expectations have a powerful impact on student achievement (e.g., Good, 1981). </li></ul><ul><li>Using teachers to define underachievement presents some problems if teachers lack objectivity or training in gifted education and multicultural education. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers tend to have lower expectations for minority and low income students than for other students (Hale-Benson, 1986). </li></ul><ul><li>Consequently, minority students may not be identified as either gifted or underachieving. </li></ul>
Effects of Teacher Perspectives on Gifted Referrals – cont’d <ul><li>Low teacher expectations for minority students may relate to a lack of teacher training in both multicultural and gifted education. </li></ul><ul><li>Such unprepared teachers are less likely to refer minority students for gifted education services or to complete checklists favorably. </li></ul><ul><li>When students do not have access to appropriate education, they have difficulty reaching their potential . The result may be underachievement due to disinterest, frustration, and lack of challenge. </li></ul>
Back to perspectives . . . <ul><li>Culture: the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group </li></ul><ul><li>African American students’ perspectives of school performance and behaviors are products of their culture and life experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher’s perspectives of instruction and student potential are products of their culture and life experiences. </li></ul>
Characteristics of Giftedness for African American students <ul><li>High nonverbal fluency and originality. </li></ul><ul><li>High creative productivity in small groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Adeptness in visual art activities. </li></ul><ul><li>High creativity in movement, dance, and other physical activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to be highly motivated by games, music, sports, humor, and concrete objects. </li></ul><ul><li>Use of language rich in imagery. </li></ul>
Be a part of the solution. <ul><li>Learn as much as you can about your African American students. What are their learning styles? How do their cultures effect their school performance? </li></ul><ul><li>Look at your African American students through a new perspective. What potential are they trying to show you? Are you going to see his or her giftedness? </li></ul>
References: <ul><li>Bonner, F. & Jennings, M. (2007). Never too young to lead: gifted African American males in elementary school. Gifted Child Today, 30.2, </li></ul><ul><li>Capability. (n.d.) In Dictionary.com Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/capability </li></ul><ul><li>Castellano, J. (2003). Special populations in gifted education: Working with diverse gifted learners.Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon </li></ul><ul><li>Culture. (n.d.) In Dictionary.com Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/culture </li></ul><ul><li>Ford, D. & Thomas, A. (1997). Underachievement among gifted minority students: Problems and promises. ERIC Digests , #E544. Retrieved from http:// www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id =156 </li></ul><ul><li>Ford, D. & Trotman, M. (2010). Under-representation of African American students in gifted education: Nine theories and frameworks for information, understanding, and change. Gifted Education Press Quarterly , 24 (3). Retrieved from h ttp://www.giftededpress.com/GEPQSUMMER2010.pdf </li></ul>
References – cont’d <ul><li>Karnes, F. A. & Stephens, K.R. (2008). Historical perspectives in gifted education: In Achieving excellence: Educating the gifted and talented. (pp. 2-17). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. </li></ul><ul><li>Oakland, T., & Rossen, E. (2005). A 21st-Century Model for Identifying Students for Gifted and Talented Programs in Light of National Conditions: An Emphasis on Race and Ethnicity. Gifted Child Today , 28 (4), 56-63. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database. </li></ul><ul><li>Potential. (n.d.) In Dictionary.com Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/potential </li></ul><ul><li>Renzulli, J. (1973). Talent Potential in Minority Group Students. Exceptional Children , 39 (6), 437-444. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database. </li></ul><ul><li>Underachiever. (n.d.) In Dictionary.com Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/underachiever </li></ul>