Concerns over recruiting and retaining minority students in gifted education programs have persisted for several decades, and, although many educators, policymakers, and researchers have deliberated about the under representation of minority students in gifted education in NYC, few papers, reports, or studies exist on this topic. This paper seeks to fill this void, describing factors that inhibit the recruitment and retention of minority students in gifted education programs in NYC. These factors include screening and identification issues (e.g., definitions and instrumentation); educational issues (e.g., quality of students’ education); and personnel issues (e.g., lack of teacher training in gifted and urban education, low teacher referral). Also discussed are retention issues, namely, factors that may affect the decision of minority students to remain in gifted education programs in NYC. Finally, recommendations for recruiting and retaining minority students are offered.
One of the most persistent, troubling, and controversial issues in education is the disproportionate representation of minority students in special education, including gifted education. The concerns over recruiting and retaining minority students in gifted education programs have persisted for several decades. One of the earliest papers to address the under identification of minority students (specifically, African American students) as gifted was written by Jenkins (1936). Since that time, other authors have focused on the under representation of African American, Hispanic American, and American Indian students in gifted education, primarily addressing assessment issues. Because Asian American students have been overrepresented in gifted education programs, most papers have focused on improving the representation of other minority students in gifted education.
Although many educators, policymakers, and researchers have been concerned about the under representation of minority students in gifted education, few papers, reports, or studies exist on this topic. There has been limited attention to the impact of practices, procedures, and policies. This paper seeks to fill this void, describing factors that inhibit the recruitment and retention of minority students in gifted education programs in NYC. These factors include screening and identification issues (e.g., definitions and instrumentation), educational issues (e.g., quality of students’ education), and personnel issues (e.g., lack of teacher training in gifted and urban education, low teacher referral). Also discussed are retention issues–that is, factors that may affect the decision of minority students to remain in gifted education programs in NYC. Finally, recommendations for recruiting and retaining minority students are offered. These recommendations focus on promising practices, procedures, and policies. This paper begins by describing the nature and extent of papers published on gifted students and gifted minority students in special education and gifted education journals and reports. Trends in the participation of minority students in gifted education are also described.
Current Status of Programs for Gifted and Talented Students
An estimated 81% of school districts in the United States (currently) offer GT services (Stewart, 2002). Approximately 37 states currently have legislation for GT education, while only 26 states have full or partial mandates to serve GT students (VanTassel-Baska, 2003). Although the process used to identify GT students may differ somewhat between school districts, it typically relies on GT committees composed of teachers, counselors, and administrators to establish both the process and standards for GT identification. Although some school districts identify students in kindergarten, most initially identify students in grades 2 through 4.
The process initially depends heavily on teachers nominating students they believe have not been served sufficiently in regular education programs and who are likely to benefit from special education and related services. Parents and peers also may be invited to participate in this nomination process. GT committees typically consider existing data (e.g., class grades, work samples, teacher reports) and collect additional information on the nominees (e.g., from measures of intelligence, achievement, creativity, leadership, and/or performing and visual arts) before making their selections (Sheets, 1999).
Changes within the U.S., including its public education system, challenge the manner in which districts offer GT services. Issues pertaining to possible program changes are discussed below.
Race/Ethnicity and Social Class
The U.S. is a nation composed largely of immigrants or their ancestors. People from more than 220 countries reside temporarily or permanently here. Immigration continues, with more than 15% of the U.S. population having entered the country within the last 10 years (VanTassel-Baska, 2003).
In many nations, students from middle class homes generally attend private schools, and students from lower class homes generally attend public schools. In contrast, the U.S. strives to have its public school system serve students from every class and race/ethnicity. The proportion of a school district’s resources provided to students who differ by social class, race/ethnicity, and thus by educational need has been used as an index of its commitment to this important principle. Black and Hispanic students generally have received a smaller portion of resources devoted to GT education than others.
Students from most minority groups typically are underrepresented in GT programs. When examined in closer detail, we find that, compared to White students, Asian/Pacific Islanders are one third more likely to be in GT programs, while Blacks and Hispanics are less than half as likely to be in such programs (VanTassel-Baska, 2006). More specifically, approximately 7.5% and 10% of White and Asian students respectively are identified for placement in gifted programs in NYC. However, approximately 3% and 3.5% of Black and Hispanic students are identified as gifted (Davis, 2004). Thus, the proportion of students receiving GT services is inconsistent with current national population distributions and their trends. The relatively small percent of Black and Hispanic students engaged in GT programs is a concern to educators and others nationally (National Research Council, 2002).
Explanations for Minority Student Under representation
Many explanations have been offered for the under representation of African American, Hispanic American, and American Indian students in gifted education programs in NYC. The majority of explanations can be categorized as (a) recruitment issues/screening and identification (e.g., definitions, instrumentation, policies, procedures); (b) personnel issues (e.g., teacher training, teacher expectations); and (c) retention issues (e.g., student-teacher relations, peer relations, learning environment).
Recruitment Issues: Screening and Identification
Definitions. Five federal definitions of giftedness have existed since 1972. Unlike stipulations placed on states and school districts in special education, each state and school district can define giftedness as it sees fit. A student can receive services as creatively gifted in one school district or state that serves this gifted category, but not be served in another school district that does not serve this gifted category. Most states have adopted the 1978 federal definition of gifted (or a version of it).
Even in states that mandate gifted education, school district does not have to identify and/or serve creatively gifted students, artistically gifted students, or students gifted in leadership. Most states serve intellectually and academically gifted students. Thus, many gifted students, regardless of racial background, are neither identified nor served.
Regardless of the definition of giftedness adopted, many states have designated arbitrary cutoff scores on achievement and intelligence tests. For example, in some states, gifted students must have an IQ of 130 or higher; some states require achievement test scores at the 95th percentile or higher; in other states, students must score at or above the 98th percentile. Further, some states identify the highest 3% of the student population; other states identify 5%. Some states require schools to use four sources or types of information during the decision-making process; others require five sources or types of information. Thus, a student can be identified as gifted in one state (or even neighboring school district), but not in another based upon the definition adopted. Further, when and how that student is screened, identified, and served varies from one school district to another.
Standardized Achievement and Aptitude Tests. Forty-five states use an achievement and/or aptitude test in the screening and identification process. The heavy or exclusive reliance on tests poses major problems for African American, American Indian, and Hispanic American students, all of whom have a history of performing poorly on these tests. Debates persist in explaining the poor performance of minority students on standardized tests. Some educators have argued that minority students are intellectually inferior to White students; others have contended that minority students have cultural deficits that contribute to their poor performance (VanTassel-Baska, 2003). More recently, educators have begun to question and reconsider the validity and reliability of the tests themselves (Smutny, 2002). Arguments against using standardized tests with minority students have proliferated in recent years on the grounds that these tests are culturally biased (Donovan, et.al. 2002). That is, tests normed on a sample of all or predominantly White students are less valid and reliable for minority students.
Regardless of the view one holds when explaining minority students’ test performance, few educators and researchers would disagree that the most important aspect of any test or assessment instrument is the degree to which it is valid and reliable. Factors affecting test reliability include trait instability; sampling error; administrator error; scoring error; and the test takers’ health, motivation, degree of fatigue, and luck in guessing.
VanTassel-Baska (2006) also reported that the emphasis placed on the definition of abstract words, sentence completion, analogies, and so forth in the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale and other standardized intelligence tests presupposes a certain mastery of standard English comprehension and usage. Perhaps the most obvious example is that we continue to give students tests in English when their primary language is not English; or we test students on their command of standard English when they communicate best in other dialects (e.g., Black Vernacular English).
Other tests lack cultural sensitivity in terms of format and presentation. For example, how valid are the results if a minority student takes a pictorial test in which none of the people can the test is of color? What impact does the race of the examiner have on minority students’ test performance? How important is the rapport between the student and test administrator? How important is minority students’ familiarity with the test format? How important are the quality and presentation of instructions (e.g., oral, written, both)? How do students’ test-taking skills affect their test performance and attitudes toward evaluation?
A final variable worth discussing is cognitive and learning style. Decades of research demonstrate that many minority students tend to learn differently from White students. For example, African American students are likely to be field dependent learners (relational, social, holistic, global learners) who approach learning situations intuitively rather than logically (Baker, & Friedman-Nimz, 2004). These styles of learning influence both school and test performance (Smutny, 2002).
In essence, issues affecting the reliability and validity of tests can result in biases against minority students. An examination of standardized test reveals that (a) language differences exist between the test (or test maker) and the students; (b) the test questions center on the experiences and facts of the dominant culture, and the answers support middle class values, which are often rewarded with more points; (c) the tests favor highly verbal students (e.g., they require a great deal of reading, word recognition, vocabulary, sentence completion, and verbal responses); and (d) the tests do not consider the extent to which some students may not be oriented toward achievement. Consequently, minority students may not perform well on traditional tests of achievement and ability.
Educational Issues and Considerations
Products and work samples are used by 44 states; outside school achievement is also used by 44 states to screen and identify gifted students (Shaunessy, 2003). What are the implications for students who are at an educational disadvantage? Quality of instruction and educational experience has a powerful influence on students’ achievement. Coleman (2003), Parks (2001), and Baker (2004) have found persistent and considerable inequities in the education received by minority students. These inequities relate to funding, staffing, and resources. In most urban school districts and in districts with a large minority population, there are teacher shortages, an over reliance on untrained (e.g., uncertified) and substitute teachers, and inadequate per-pupil expenditures.
Minority students are also likely to be placed in low ability groups and non-college preparatory tracks, which decreases the likelihood that these students will be identified as gifted. VanTassel-Baska (2006) found that schools with a large percentage of minority students are less likely than other schools to offer academically rigorous curricula, high-ability groups, and academic tracks (e.g., advanced placement, honors courses).
Relatedly, and always a function of quality of education, several studies have found high percentages of underachievement among gifted African American students (McCoach, 2005). More likely than not, underachievement will decrease the likelihood that the potential of minority students will be realized and recognized. Poor educational experiences and underachievement will affect minority students’ performance when they are completing products and work samples used to screen and identify gifted students. Thus, given the poor quality of their educational experiences, numerous negative educational outcomes, and high percentages of underachievement, minority students may be placed at further disadvantage during the screening and identification process.
Personnel Considerations and Issues
Thus, numerous psychometric and educational issues must be examined to better understand minority students’ low representation in gifted education programs in NYC. Further, we must examine the human dimension of screening and identification. How do referrals and nominations by teachers, parents, peers, and students themselves influence minority students’ representation in gifted education in NYC?
Teacher Referrals/Nominations. Forty-six states use teacher nominations in the screening process and 42 use teacher input in placement decisions (Shaunessy, 2003). The fact that 86% of teachers are White (VanTassel-Baska, 2006) is of concern. In addition, the lack of teacher training in gifted education poses many problems. Several studies indicate that teachers are less effective and less accurate than parents in recognizing students who require gifted education services. Specifically, 61% of the teachers surveyed by Hannaway, et al. (2004) had received no staff development in the area of gifted education. Similarly, Baker, et.al. (2004) found that half the states require no certification or endorsement in gifted education, 3 states make this training optional, 5 states have statements of competencies, 14 require practicum experiences, and 8 require teaching experience in the regular classroom prior to teaching gifted students. As a result, teachers are not always the most reliable sources for identifying gifted learners (particularly culturally or racially diverse students) and then referring them for gifted education programs. Without training in gifted education, how qualified are teachers to recognize students with gifted characteristics?
Numerous studies have described the influence that teacher expectations have on student achievement. When making referrals, teachers often emphasize such behaviors as cooperation, answering correctly, punctuality, and neatness (McCoach, 2004). These may not be the behaviors that gifted minority (and underachieving) students demonstrate. Likewise, such characteristics as race, gender, socioeconomic status, and family structure all influence teachers’ perceptions of students (Baker, 2003). Even when minority students have been identified as gifted, teachers may have low expectations (Donovan, 2002). Although the nature and extent of teacher referral of minority students have been addressed in special education, only one study has examined teacher referrals and gifted minority students. Castellano (2003) found that White teachers under referred African American students for gifted education programs in NYC. Siegle, (2005) found that 38% of student teachers believed that poor academic achievement and performance among minority students was due to cultural deficits. These low teacher expectations and negative perceptions can result in the low referral rates of minority students for gifted education in NYC. It is an unfortunate reality that problems related to racism, segregation, and long-held beliefs concerning minority groups have resulted in dubious benefits for students whose rights the policies were designed to protect in the first place (Gallagher, 2001).
Parent Nominations. Forty-five states include parent nominations in the screening process and 38 use input from others (including parents) in making placement decisions (Donovan, 2003). However, many of these forms are complicated and cumbersome, thereby inhibiting some parents from completing them. Parents who have difficulty understanding the forms are likely to over- or underestimate their child’s ability or refuse to complete the forms altogether.
Further, although parents represent important and essential sources of information, parent nomination forms and checklists can suffer from the same shortcomings as other instruments – lack of reliability and validity data, inattention to characteristics of underachievement, lack of cultural sensitivity, and an exclusive focus on intellectual or academic characteristics of giftedness. Parent nomination forms may also lack culturally specific characteristics of minority students, making it difficult for parents to recognize their children’s strengths as listed on the forms. Equally important, a school’s use of parent: a nomination assumes that all parents are informed about the parent nomination option. Minority parents who have little communication with schools are unlikely to be aware that a gifted education program exists or those they can nominate their children.
Self-Nominations. Forty-two states use self-nominations in the screening process, and 38 use student nominations (Stewart, 2002). Negative peer pressure, however, may inhibit some minority students, particularly adolescents, from making self-nominations. Similarly, many gifted minority adolescents choose not to participate in gifted education programs in NYC. They often cite social-emotional variables – feeling isolated and alienated from White students and feeling rejected by minority peers – as reasons not to enter the gifted education program or not to remain there (e.g., Gallagher, 2001). Hence, self-nominations may not be a viable option for some minority group members.
Other Nominations. Forty-three states use peer nominations as part of the screening process. Parks, (2001) concluded that the scientific foundation for peer nominations is fragile. For instance, peer nominations are frequently normed on a small sample; there is seldom reliability data (interjudger reliability, pre-post reliability); frequently, there are few or no data on construct and criterion validity. Although peer nominations are not sociograms, one must also consider the extent to which they are appropriate for minority students who attend predominantly White schools. The lack of heterogeneity in some schools calls into question the quality of data gathered from peers. Further, to what extent are White students sensitive to the many cultural characteristics and strengths of minority students? What perceptions do White students hold of minority students? To what extent are peer nomination forms culturally sensitive or biased? To what extent do they contain characteristics of gifted underachievers?
Composition and Training of Selection Committee. To date, no national study has examined the racial and socio-demographic characteristics of selection committees in gifted education in NYC. In special education, Siegle, (2005) identified the lack of diversity among selection committee members as an important factor that increases the placement of minority students. Conversely, it is plausible that these characteristics may inhibit the placement of minority students in gifted education in NYC. That is, are members biased in favor of those students who share their racial background, socioeconomic status, and gender?
Characteristics and Training of Assessment Personnel. School counselors and psychologists are heavily relied upon for identification and placement decisions. Yet, few counselors and psychologists are trained in gifted education, multicultural education, or urban education. Castellano (2003) found that more than half of the 661 measurement experts who responded to a 1984 survey on intelligence and aptitude testing believe that genetic factors contributed to IQ differences between African Americans and Whites. These beliefs carry significant implications. How do such attitudes affect their assessments with minority students?
Several studies have explored public school counselors’ awareness of issues confronting gifted students, as well as their training to work with this student population. Findings indicate that few school counselors or psychologists are formally trained to work with gifted learners (Parks, 2001). They do not feel competent about identifying gifted students, and feel even less competent at identifying gifted minority students. Further, Siegle, (2005) found that only 11 states required at least one course in special education for school counselor certification, 17 were changing certification requirements, and the remaining states neither required any courses nor were in the process of considering changes in certification. This lack of training among school counselors and psychologists might be contributing to misinterpretation of test data and to the under representation of minority students in gifted education programs in NYC.
Siegle, (2002) found that African American students who preferred not to be in gifted education programs expressed concerns primarily about feelings of isolation from White students. Thirty students (20%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I would prefer to stay in a regular school program rather than be in a gifted program.” Explanations related to socio-emotional/affective issues: They do not want to be the only African American in the class; they fear feeling lonely, isolated, and different from White students; and they fear being negatively pressured by African American students. In addition, compared to gifted African American achievers, underachievers were more likely to report negative relationships with teachers (Parks, 2001). Finally, many of the African American students were underachieving (42%), mostly because of poor study habits and poor time management. Regardless of the reason, underachievers are less likely to be referred for screening and identification and to be identified as gifted than are achievers. Further, underachieving and socially isolated students are unlikely to persist in gifted education programs in NYC.
Recommendations for Recruiting and Retaining Minority Students in Gifted Education Programs
The majority of literature on minority students concentrates on recruitment–finding better ways to screen and identify minority students for gifted education programs and services. Few have focused on retaining these students once place. These recruitment and retention recommendations are described below.
- Use valid and reliable instruments. All instruments used to screen and identify gifted students (including checklists, referral forms, and standardized instruments) must be valid and reliable, as well as culturally sensitive. In their study, Robinson, (2007) reported that the Raven’s Matrices is more effective than the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) at identifying gifted minority students. Other studies have reported similar findings. Whatever instruments are used, the issue of disparate impact must be considered. That is, if minority students consistently and disproportionately perform poorly on selected instruments, what rationale exists for those instruments’ continued use?
- Collect multiple types and sources of information. As advocated in special education, a holistic profile of students must be developed prior to making educational decisions. Both quantitative and qualitative information are necessary, as well as objective and subjective information. Information must be gathered from parents, teachers, and students. No one piece of information should be used to include or exclude a student from placement. A philosophy of assessment is essential if gifted minority students are to be identified and served. As Hannaway (2004) noted, we must also consider multiple factors in the assessment process: It cannot be presumed that the array of tasks standardized and presented as the WISC-1II can cover all of an individual’s intelligence…. other determiners of intelligence, nonintellective in nature, also help shape how a child’s abilities are expressed. These non-intellective factors…. include attributes such as planning and goal awareness. enthusiasm, attitudes, field dependence and independence, impulsiveness, anxiety, and persistence…. [We] must consider an individual’s life history (e.g., social and medical history and linguistic and cultural background) as part of any good assessment…. [It is] important to take into account factors other than intellectual or cognitive abilities. (pp. 2-3).
- Provide support services and educational opportunities. The quality of students’ educational experiences must be examined prior to identification and placement so that students will be successful in the gifted education program. For instance, as noted by Jenkins (1936) more than six decades ago, minority students coming from less academically rigorous schools and classrooms are likely to have difficulties in more academically rigorous gifted education programs in NYC. For underachieving students, pre-placement educational experiences may be necessary, including study skills and time management skills.
- Provide extensive teacher and school personnel training. The ability of teachers to work effectively with gifted minority students will increase based on staff development efforts and teacher education preparation. At a minimum, pre-service and practicing teachers need the following skills: (a) Teachers should gain substantive classroom experiences with minority students (e.g., during practical or internships); (b) teachers should be trained to understand and respect students’ cultural heritage worldviews, values, and customs; (c) teachers need to understand minority students’ communication skills, modalities, and behaviors (e.g., body language, facial expressions, eye contact, silence, touch, public space); (d) teachers must understand and decrease their stereotypes about and fears of minority students; (e) teachers need to learn outreach skills–how to work effectively with minority students, their families, and their community; and (f) teachers must gain a greater respect for individual and group differences in learning, achievement, and behavior. In general, teachers will need training to avoid cultural deficit and pathological models and to understand that intelligence and educability is matters of individual differences rather than racial differences (Robinson, 2007).
- Increase family involvement. Cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic differences among schools, gifted education personnel, and minority groups have served as stumbling blocks to establishing effective home-school partnerships. The involvement of minority families in the recruitment and retention process is incomplete without early, ongoing, and substantive family involvement. This involvement must include participation in the screening, identification, and placement process to ensure that students are successfully identified and successful in the gifted education program. School personnel–not consumers (parents and children) have the primary responsibility for ensuring equal participation and access for all families, which requires breaking down barriers to their involvement. Minority parents face numerous barbers to school involvement. As Siegle, (2002) noted, minority families remain apprehensive that school personnel may stereotype: families that are less affluent, have different family values, have lower educational attainment levels, and have lower status occupations. These concerns, real or perceived, cause minority parents to fear that their children have little chance of being recognized as gifted. Equally important is that instruments completed by family members be culturally sensitive, as well as sensitive to all reading levels. In essence, policies and practices must be adopted that ensure meaningful minority family involvement and implementation of gifted education services. Ongoing and multiple modes of communication can increase family involvement (e.g., personal telephone calls, personal letters, newsletters, a minority liaison parent to families and community leaders).
- Increase and refocus research and literature. More research and writing are needed to help unravel the complex issues surrounding minority students’ under representation in gifted education. As noted in the beginning of this paper, few studies have focused on gifted minority students. Without increased research and writing, there is the danger that school personnel will continue to base arguments about, and programs and services targeting minority students, on empirically unsupported information, which cannot result in improved educational outcomes for these students (Hannaway, 2004).
To avoid reaching erroneous conclusions about the minority under representation problem, we must look not only at changes in figures, but also at contextual factors – both socio-cultural and sociopolitical. We must examine the mosaic of factors affecting the placement of minority students in gifted education programs relative to policies, procedures, and practices (e.g., low teacher expectations, low teacher referral, poor home-school relations, definitions, standardized tests).
Also yet to be explored are the reasons Asian American students are overrepresented in gifted education in NYC, whereas other minority groups are underrepresented. That is, how do the factors discussed throughout this paper differ for White, Asian American, and other minority students? Certainly, in reversing the under representation dilemma, we must move beyond important but simplistic analyses that are race specific only. Too frequently, researchers assume that the main effects of race are super ordinate to the influence of other sociopolitical and socio-cultural factors, such as those described by Robinson (2007). Future analyses must consider data on race, gender, and socioeconomic status (SES). For instance, are African American males more likely to be underrepresented than African American females? Are middle SES Hispanic American students less likely to be underrepresented than their lower SES counterparts? How do representation trends differ across the racial minority groups? We cannot continue to treat minority students as a homogeneous or monolithic conglomerate of people (Siegle, 2002), for there is both within- and between-group diversity that cannot be ignored.
The under representation of African American, Hispanic American, and American Indian students in gifted education in NYC requires a careful analysis that transcends merely contrasting ethnic group enrollment data. Thus, states and school districts must also collect data on the percentage of minority students served in the various gifted categories. It is noteworthy that no national studies or reports have described the representation of minority students in gifted education programs in NYC by categories of giftedness. This is surprising given that most states include specific references to gifted students from special populations in their policies, and many states identify gifted students in such areas as creativity and visual and performing arts. Are minority students underrepresented in intellectual and academic categories? Are they overrepresented in creative, artistic, and leadership categories?
More research is needed on referrals of minority students to gifted education in NYC. Who is the primary referral source (e.g., teachers, parents, peers, self)? What reasons are given for referral or lack of referral? What information is contained on the referral forms (e.g., do items lack cultural sensitivity)? Analyses of referral information must examine demographic variables, such as gender. Are minority females more likely to be referred than males? Equally important, to what extent are teachers trained in both gifted and cultural education more likely to refer minority students compared to teachers without such training’? Are minority teachers more likely than White teachers to refer minority students? What factors influence teacher referrals of Asian American students (given their overrepresentation in gifted education programs in NYC) versus other minority students?
As noted, most states report using multiple criteria and multiple sources of information when screening and identifying gifted students. More information does not guarantee changes in practices. Specifically, although more information is gathered, it is unclear how the information is used. For instance, are quantitative sources of information weighted more heavily than qualitative information? Are objective measures weighted more heavily than subjective measures? Are teacher nominations weighted more heavily than parent nominations?
Many school districts, policymakers, and researchers have endeavored to increase the representation of minority students in gifted education in NYC. A persistent finding, however, is that even with the best screening procedures and multiple identification criteria, minority students can be overlooked. As discussed in this paper, the under representation of minority students in gifted education programs must be examined in a contextual and comprehensive way because numerous factors affect the recruitment and retention of these students in gifted education in NYC. These factors include the definition and criteria adopted by states and school districts, as well as the validity and reliability of instruments adopted–tests, checklists, nomination forms. Also important are the many factors associated with referrals or nominations by teachers, parents, peers, and students themselves. And we cannot overlook the quality of students’ educational experiences. The potential of students who are at educational disadvantage is likely to be hidden by such factors as poor quality of schooling and underachievement.
More research is needed in both gifted education and special education that examines how and why minority students are underrepresented in gifted education programs in NYC. Likewise: more efforts must focus on the recruitment and retention of minority students in gifted education programs in NYC. The persistent and pervasive under representation of minority students represents a tragic and unnecessary waste of human potential and promise.
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