Overcoming Underrepresentation in Gifted Programs, Part II: Assessment and Accommodation

Overcoming Underrepresentation in Gifted Programs Among Culturally, Linguistically,

Ethnically Diverse, and Diverse Social and Economic Gifted Learners: A Parent and School Engagement Perspective, Part II

By Ken Dickson

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series by guest Talking Circles columnist Ken Dickson on how parents and schools can work to overcome underrepresentation of specific populations in gifted programs. This month’s column focuses on the roles of assessment and accommodation. Click here to read part one, which discusses the roles of attitude and access.

Assessment – Assessment includes the entire process of evaluating the presence and degree of giftedness in CLED learners and learners from diverse social and economic backgrounds. Assessment provides information about identification, learning and progress outcomes, and evaluation of programming for students with gifts and talents in all domains (NAGC 2010 Pre-K-Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards).

What should be included in engagement between CLED parents and parents from diverse social and economic backgrounds regarding assessment?

Schools implement student assessment practices related to access/identification process. Parent and school engagement should:

 Include activities that reflect and respect the culture (background, behaviors and experiences) of CLED learners and learners from diverse social and economic backgrounds.

 Include parent awareness and input opportunities to serve as alternatives to traditional objective tests such as intelligence or achievement measures.

 Use processes to factor out cultural bias associated with traditional assessments and use parent information. Generally, traditional assessments are biased regarding the backgrounds, behaviors and experiences associated with giftedness and CLED learners and learners from diverse social and economic backgrounds. The assessments assume that all students are similarly acculturated or assimilated to reflect majority culture norms. In that regard schools should:

 Use multiple assessment processes and should not use the outcomes of traditional

assessments as standalone indicators of giftedness.

 Establish comprehensive, systematic and ongoing practices that are nonbiased and equitable.

 Use of a variety of subjective and objective measures to assess students for GT program access, participation and retention.

 Include locally developed norms; disaggregate data to account for economic, race and class differences.

 Use equitable and nonbiased interventions to compensate for educational and community realities including human bias and misinformation about giftedness. This includes the realities associated with poor instruction and lack of access to high quality education that can contribute to poor scores on traditional assessments (Ford, Grantham, Whiting, Gilman, 2008).

 Consider the impact of culture on test scores (Ford, 2004; Ford & Frazier- Trotman, 2000; Helms, 1992; Miller-Jones, 1989; Sternberg, 2007).

 Understand how culturally loaded tests can lower culturally and linguistically diverse students’ test scores (Fagan & Holland, 2002; Flanagan & Ortiz, 2001; Skiba et al., 2002).

 Be conscientious in seeking to interpret and use test scores sensibly, to explore various explanations for the differential test scores, and to consider alternative instruments and assessment practices (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999).

From: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Gifted Education, Ford, Donna Y; Grantham,Tarek C; Whiting, Gilman W. April 2, 2008


Accommodations – Accommodations include program design and curricular experiences to support needs and interests of CLED learners and learners from diverse social and economic backgrounds. Included are adjustments and modifications to services, activities and practices (programming) to complement and maximize learner performance and to garner parent satisfaction and support.

What accommodations are evidenced at your school? Does your school: