Diverse students and underrepresentation in gifted programs
Minority Cultural Bias
Literature Review – Minority Cultural Bias
Deficit thinking and diverse student underrepresentation
Ford et al (2002) posit that deficit orientation is a contributing factor to diverse students’ low representation in gifted programs. The ‘deficit thinking’ as presented by Ford et al (2002) denotes bias and teacher attitudes that affect their ability to recognise students deserving inclusion in gifted education. Irizarry (2015) and Holt (2008) present a similar view with Ford et al, with both determining stereotypes and the attitude of teachers often lead to prejudiced exclusion, from gifted programs, of diverse students. In their study aimed at demonstrating how increased inclusion of African American learners in programs for gifted students, Ford & Grantham (2003) establish that this group is likely to encounter 50-70% underrepresentation. This is the result of deficit thinking among teachers, causing them to have low or negative expectations among diverse students.
Negative perceptions by diverse students that cause underrepresentation
Ford, Grantham &Whiting (2008) establish that negative racial identity and achievement-related attitudes contribute to underrepresentation of gifted black students. It is an issue of students holding themselves back as explained by some attitudes and behaviours that contribute to the achievement gap. ‘Acting White’ was first mentioned in Ogbu & Fordman (1986), and is a connotation of diverse students trying to blend into the majority group by embracing the social expectations of the white. As established by Ogbu (2004), the search for social identity may lead students into behaving like the predominant group in a bid to improve chances of self-attainment. Since high achievement is associated with whites, high-performing diverse students endure cultural pressure because their good performance is interpreted as trying to act white (Ogbu & Fordman, 1986). Closely related to acting white is the ‘forced choice dilemma’ which according to Jung, Young & Gross (2012) puts diverse students at a dilemma on whether to underperform in a bid to fit into their culture and achieve peer acceptance or break the norms and excel. The conflict between academic performance and social acceptance is also presented in Merrotsy (2013) who notes that forced choice dilemma could limit student potential to a significant level. In addition, Merrotsy (2013) discusses the concept of ‘invisible gifted’ which is presented as a situation where students with potential and giftedness tend to underachieve. Invisible giftedness is associated with performance inhibitors such as social pressures, self-identity struggles, self-esteem issues and failure to trust the education system. Another aspect is ‘masking’ where gifted minority students try to fit in with friends by trying to conceal their potential (Ford, 1996). In a research by Graham (2008), it was established that aboriginal students in Australia could perform better in the absence of cultural pressures that put them in a dilemma of whether to excel academically or maintain cultural acceptance by not acting white.
Culturally biased testing
Out-dated tests to a great extent limit the recognition of gifted children because they fail to put into consideration broader meanings of giftedness. Current testing is not effective for minority students because a majority of tests only assess grammar and analytical skills and hence very narrow; such that many diverse students end up not being identified. According to Sternberg (2006), a majority of these tests are built upon older assessments and do not incorporate more modern outlooks into giftedness. This can be identified in Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children IV (WISC IV, Wechsler, 2003). The test only measures for convergent thinking and is heavily reliant on language ability despite its update in 2005 (Baron, 2005; Riddell, 2007). The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (1983, 2004) on the other hand could place diverse students at a disadvantage because it tends to favour fluent English speakers. The test examines logical and analytical abilities containing sections with riddles and vocabulary testing with picture as well as non-verbal section of matrices to solve, the creator of the test recommends that it is not used on either culturally or linguistically diverse students. Lohman (2003) critiqued the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT), claiming that it was ineffective in identifying endowed minority learners while Haitana et al. (2010) established the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-III) showed cultural bias. These shortcomings denote the need for tests that can effectively assess giftedness among diverse students while placing them on an equal platform. Given the narrow nature of standardised tests which only focus on analytical type abilities and limit the ability of diverse students to showcase their capabilities, researchers have, and continue to develop novel tests that could address this challenge. Some of these tests are described below.
Advanced intelligence tests for identification of giftedness
Researchers including Sternberg (2006) have elucidated the relevance of using multiple criteria in identifying giftedness compared to standardised tests. Renzulli & Gaesser (2015) notes that while IQ is an important measure, multi criteria tests that evaluate creativity, task commitment and ability yield better results in identifying gifted students. The Creative Intelligence Test (CREA) while useful for assessing divergent thinking and the possibility of qualitative results analysis, the results are mostly based on ‘g’ intelligence (Fernández et al., 2017; Corbalan,et al., 2003; Clapham & King, 2010). Sarouphim (2009) established that the DISCOVER model was more effective in identification of giftedness among minorities due to its ability to assess creativity using a multi criteria approach. To assess the effectiveness of the test, 248 Grades 3-5 students from Lebanon were required to take the DISCOVER assessment and later the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices (Sarouphim, 2009). The DISCOVER test involved examining written language, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic and personal intelligences. Results indicated that the DISCOVER ratings coincided with their performance in class and all gifted students identified scored highly on point averages, recorded at between 3.8 and 4.0 out of 4. The test also did not yield significant differences based on gender, making it more reliable and unbiased. However, its applicability depends on the capability to match the assessments with the identified gifted program. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) is highly reliable due to its ability to asses numerous aspects of creative strengths. In a study to test the validity of TTCT, Wechsler (2006) located 128 Brazilians, including 58 participants whose past achievements had been recognised at local, state or national level. The results between TTCT’s creative indicators and creative achievements indicated significant relationships, with p values ranging from < .05 to < .001. Using t-tests, significant differences were found between persons identified with recognized achievement, thus further confirming reliability of the TTCT. However, because the tool incorporates fluency to predict creativity, and this could lead to exclusion of diverse students. In addition, Kim, (2006) found the test to be more effective when used in conjunction with another measure. According to Kim (2006), creativity is one of the criteria and not the sole determinant of giftedness, with others being intelligence, motivation and achievement. Therefore, TTCT cannot be used by itself in gifted programs admission decisions.
The shortcomings identified in the above tests suggest that the gap of underrepresentation among gifted diverse students still remains. In this regard, minorities still tend to underperform in various tests (Plucker, Hardesty & Burroughs, 2013). Furthermore, such tools are not widely available for use in schools unlike standardised tests, thus leading to challenges in identifying gifted students. There is need to develop tests that effectively fill the gap in the identification of diverse students.
Baron, I. S. (2005) Test Review: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition
(WISC-IV). Child Neuropsychology, 11:5, 471-475, DOI: 10.1080/09297040590951587Corbalán, F. J., et al. (2003). Creative Intelligence Test (CREA . Creative Intelligence CREA,
Manual. Madrid: TEA EdicionesFernández, E. et al. (2017). Identifying Gifted Children: Congruence among Different IQ
Measures. Front Psychol, 2017; 8: 1239. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01239.
Ford, D. Y. & Grantham, T. C. (2003). Providing Access for Culturally Diverse Gifted Students:
From Deficit to Dynamic Thinking. Theory Into Practice. 42(3):217-225.
Ford, D. Y. (1996). Reversing underachievement among gifted black students. New York:
Teachers College Press.Ford, D. Y. et al. (2002). Beyond deficit thinking: Providing access for gifted African American
students. Roeper Review, 24(2), 52-58.
Ford, D. Y., Grantham, T. C., & Whiting, G. W. (2008). Another Look at the Achievement Gap:
Learning From t Experiences of Gifted Black Students. Urban Education, 43(2), 216-239.
Graham, C. (2008). Is Gifted Education a Necessary Ingredient in Creating a Level Playing Field
for Indigenous Children in Education? Australasian Journal of Gifted Education, 17(1), 96-99.
Haitana T., Pitama S., Rucklidge J. J. (2010). Cultural biases in the peabody picture vocabulary
test-III: testing tamariki in a New Zealand sample. J. Psychol. 39, 24–34.
Holt, C. P. (2008). Exploring Teachers’ Beliefs about the Underrepresentation of Minority
Students in the Gifted Program in a Mid-Sized Suburban School District in Georgia. Electronic Theses & Dissertations. 241. https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/etd/241.Irizarry, Y. (2015). Selling students short: Racial differences in teachers’ evaluations of high,
average, and low performing students. Social Science Research, 52, 522–538. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2015.04.002Jung, J. Y., Young, M. & Gross, M.U. (2012). The Forced Choice Dilemma: A Model
Incorporating Idiocentric/Allocentric Cultural Orientation. Gifted Child Quarterly, 56(1):15-24 DOI: 10.1177/0016986211429169.
Kim, K. H. (2006). Can We Trust Creativity Tests? A Review of the Torrance Tests of Creative
Thinking (TTCT). Creativity Research Journal, 18(1), 3-14.
Lohman, D. F. (2003). Review of Naglieri and Ford (2003): Does the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability
Test identify equal proportions of high-scoring White, Black, and Hispanic students? Retrieved from https://faculty.education.uiowa.edu/docs/dlohman/Review_of_Naglieri_and_Ford.pdfMerrotsy, P. (2013). Invisible Gifted Students. Talent Development & Excellence, 5(2).Ogbu, J. U & Fordham. (1986). Acting white. Retrieved from
Ogbu, J. U. (2004). Collective Identity and the Burden of “Acting White” in Black History,
Community, and Education. The Urban Review. Mar 01, 2004 36(1):1-35.
Plucker, J. A., Hardesty, & Burroughs, N. A. (2013). Talent on the sidelines: Excellence gaps
and America’s persistent talent underclass. Storrs, CT: Center for Education Policy at the Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut. Retrieved from https://cepa.uconn.edu/home/research/mindthegap/Riddell, R. P. (2007). Review of WISC-IV advanced clinical interpretation. [Review of the book
WISC-IV Advanced Clinical Interpretation. edited by L. G. Weiss, D. Saklofske, A. Prifitera & J. A. Holdnack]. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 48(1), 51-53.Renzulli, J. & Gaesser, H. A. (2015). A Multi Criteria System for the Identification of
igh Achieving and Creative/Productive Giftedness. Revista de Educacion. 92-121. 10.4438/1988-592X-RE-2015-368-290.
Sarouphim, K. M. (2009). The Use of a Performance Assessment for Identifying Gifted
Lebanese Students: Is DISCOVER Effective? Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 33 (2), 275–295
WechslerWechsler, D. (2003). Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition (WISC-IV).
Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ff43/8c42614695310ab5e5cc791cba60d6c660e9.pdfWechsler, S. (2006). Validity of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking to the Brazilian
Culture. Creativity Research Journal. 18. 15-25.
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