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Underserved Gifted Populations
Posted By:  Adam Marcum
Thursday, January 23, 2020

Underserved Gifted Populations
by Cathy Chenoweth, BCESC Gifted Coordinator

Video: Casting a Wider Net for Giftedness


When you look around in your gifted and advanced classes, what do you see? Are your classrooms filled with students from privileged backgrounds, or are all students represented? Are you serving students of diverse races and socioeconomic backgrounds? Are there students with disabilities as well as English language learners? Too often these groups of students are not proportionally represented in our higher level classes.

"Nationally, more than 13 percent of all Asian students are enrolled in gifted programs compared with just 4 percent of black students, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Among whites, 8 percent are tapped for gifted classrooms. Among Hispanics, it’s 5 percent. That mirrors long-standing achievement differences on standardized tests." - The Hechinger Report, April 2019

"A 2007 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation research study shows talented low-income students as a whole are not achieving their full potential… This study, which defined high-achieving as the top 25 percent of students in U.S. schools, estimated that 3.4 million gifted students from lower-income families are underachieving due to a lack of opportunity." - A Nation at Risk - How Gifted, Low-income Kids Are Left Behind


Ohio has taken one step by mandating whole grade screenings twice in each academic student's career- once in the K-2 grade band and again in the 3-6 grade band. We know that universal screening can help find gifted students who might be otherwise overlooked.

But whole-grade screening alone is not enough. Ability tests don’t really measure potential; they measure how potential has been nurtured and developed so far. These tests are good at identifying students whose families have the resources to make sure the child is developing his or her potential. Schools need to make sure all students have those advantages.

Teachers and administrators need training in understanding the characteristics of gifted students and how they might manifest in different cultural contexts. What might look like disruptive or disengaged behavior to a teacher may actually be an expression of that student’s academic talents in a mismatched setting.

Simply identifying more gifted students from diverse backgrounds is not enough. We have to follow up with higher level academic programs to develop their gifts and talents. Ultimately we need to make sure that all of our academic programming is rigorous for high-achieving students, gifted or not.

Want to read further about this topic? Check out these resources:

NAGC- Identifying and Supporting Gifted Students from Underserved Communities

Minority Students Underrepresented in Gifted Programs

How Being Poor and Gifted is Like Skiing in Trinidad

Gifted, But Still Learning English, Many Bright Students Get Overlooked

7 Myths About Twice-Exceptional (2E) Students

If you would like to further explore the topic of underserved gifted students, we have two opportunities coming up at the Butler County Educational Service Center. First, we will embark on a six-week online study of the book Start Seeing and Serving Underserved Gifted Students from Feb. 10 through March 20. We will also dig into this topic in a half-day professional development workshop at BCESC on March 10, 2020. Please click here for more information.

If you would like to learn more about meeting the needs of gifted students, please contact me.

(513) 896-2322 office
(513) 379-3619 cell



Blog Categories

  • In The News
  • Teaching & Learning
    • 04/13/2020 - How To Support Your Gifted Stu
    • 01/23/2020 - Underserved Gifted Populations
    • 11/06/2019 - Building Resilience in Gifted


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