The Gifted Education field is more committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion than ever. In August 2022, the National Association for Gifted Children hosted its second annual National Symposium on Equity for Black and Brown Students. The Belin-Blank Center started its Academy for Twice-Exceptionality in the Fall of 2021. Researchers and national gifted education centers are focusing on key issues and providing schools with practical ideas to implement. Here are five essential ideas and/or resources to help schools do this.
Donna Y. Ford’s Equity Goal and Equity Formula
Dr. Ford believes that schools and program schools must be deliberate in setting specific minimal goals, especially regarding representation, to be equitable for their students. She introduced the Equity Formula that supplies a target percentage goal to better address underrepresentation in advanced programming. With this target in mind, decision and policymakers can review current placement criteria and/or processes to find barriers for students traditionally “missed” for advanced programming within a school system. This article shares more information on this important idea.
For too long, gifted programs used national percentiles in deciding who was identified for a variety of advanced programming. While a national perspective has some degree of value in interpreting scores, especially at the district level, a specific program at a particular site does not need to cast such a wide perspective on scores. Schools should serve the students within them, so it makes much more sense to compare the students within a school. Dr. Scott Peters has written prolifically on the benefits of using per school local norms in helping to make gifted programs more equitable. Here is an article detailing “Everything You Need to Know” about local norms.
Tips for Improving Identification of Gifted EL Students
The face of America’s students is changing. In the Fall of 2020, Hispanic students made up 28% of public school students. Because gifts and talents are found among all populations, schools must do a better job of discovering students for advanced programs within this population. The National Center for Research on Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut conducts excellent research that often results in practical resources for schools. Their tips address screening, identification, communication, and professional development. These tips are also available as a downloadable pdf.
Jacob’s Ladder Program
There is great power in scaffolding as an intervention. Students with high potential might need focused support to better access critical and creative thinking tasks. Dr. Tamra Stambaugh began working with an interactive approach to scaffold reading as a graduate student at the College of William & Mary. As a result, the Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program was developed. Using a ladder image, students move from lower-order, concrete thinking skills to higher-order, critical and creative thinking skills. The critical thinking skills (consequences and implications, generalizations, and main idea/theme/concept) are based on the work of Paul’s Reasoning Model. In addition to “ladders” related to short stories, poems, fables, and non-fiction, there are ladders that focus on affective skills.
The Paradox of Giftedness and Autism
According to the Autistic Society’s research, approximately fifty children are diagnosed with autism in the United States every day. With the increasing number of autistic students across the country, schools and families must work together to support student success. While it is essential to focus on the strengths of all students diagnosed with autism, this is a non-negotiable when working with the twice-exceptional student population. The Belin-Blank Center drafted a Packet of Information to supply recommendations for administrators and educators that would lead to a positive experience for twice-exceptional students. The experience-based information and suggestions offered in this resource have resulted from working with gifted students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder through our Assessment and Counseling Clinic.
We encourage you to view this list as a foundation and a catalyst. The five items shared here are research-based and should be considered in any effort to better address diversity, equity, and inclusion within a program for advanced students. They have been developed from solid thinking, so they serve as an excellent foundation from which to grow. Inevitably, new ideas that will help schools will be forthcoming from leaders in the field. We urge practitioners, especially those in decision-making positions, to stay up-to-date with current research and research-based resources. It is our hope that this list serves as that spark!