The Underrepresentation of Hispanic English Learners in Gifted and Talented Programs
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Every school has students who possess exceptional abilities; who can be considered gifted and talented. Students with special gifts and talents come from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds (Cohen, 1990). Yet as the number of Hispanic English language learners increases across the country, the number identified as gifted remains the same (Brown, 1997; Esquierdo, 2006). Countless Hispanic English learners have talents that are valued within their own cultures, but regrettably, these bilingual students are commonly overlooked in programs. Historically, English Learners and students of color have been seriously underrepresented in gifted education (Elhoweris, Mutua, Alsheikh & Holloway, 2005). Hispanic students are underrepresented in gifted programs nationally by 40% (Ford, 2012).
This qualitative case study identified and analyzed the current gifted and talented program nomination and identification process in a selected Texas elementary school district. The areas examined in this study included informal and formal nomination of students, teacher identification practices, and the evaluation procedures. Key findings were: a need to be inclusive of ELs’ families, a presence of unconscious bias, a need for professional development, a need for increase fidelity and GT program review, and transparency and disparities of the GT program. Recommendations for future research are also presented.