Traditionally, gifted and talented programs have been filled with White, middle or upper-middle-class students. These are students whose home backgrounds have provided them enrichment opportunities and linguistic experiences to enhance their natural abilities in ways that allow them to do outstandingly well on standardized tests. Increasingly, observers point out that the tests are designed by White, middle or upper-middle-class experts whose academic backgrounds and experiences have led them to set criteria tending to favor students from the same backgrounds (Barkan & Bernal, 1991; Jimenez, 1997). This Digest describes the ongoing effort to develop new methods for identifying and assessing bilingual and limited-English-proficient (LEP) Hispanic students.
Many LEP Hispanic students have backgrounds that are culturally and linguistically different from the traditional developers and takers of gifted and talented tests. Nevertheless, many of these students are capable, have the requisite skills, and should be eligible for gifted and talented programs. Indeed, across the country LEP Hispanic students participate in these programs in areas with sizable Hispanic populations, primarily in large urban school districts such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, and New York. New programs geared to identify and educate these students have begun to develop in other places (e.g., Provo, Utah; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Hall County, Georgia) experiencing increased bilingual Hispanic student enrollment.
Professional journals of bilingual as well as gifted and talented educators have recently featured articles addressing the needs of these students (Barkan & Bernal, 1991; Bermudez & Rakow, 1993; Castellano, 1997; Kitano & Espinosa, 1995; Maker, 1996). A summit held in Washington, DC, in January 1997--convened by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) and Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs (OBEMLA)--brought together leading experts to articulate, for the first time on a national level, issues addressing LEP students with outstanding talents. Besides these national efforts, there appears to be a grassroots movement developing across the United States, initiated by parents and other advocates, to include LEP Hispanic students in programs serving the gifted and talented (Castellano, 1997).
IDENTIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT OF GIFTED AND TALENTED BILINGUAL HISPANIC STUDENTS
In an effort to provide better profiles for the identification of all gifted children, current research suggests use of both qualitative measures and quantitative instruments, such as achievement and intelligence tests (Garcia, 1994). Early in the 1980s, a national panel of experts recommended use of several instruments when assessing children from disadvantaged populations, including culturally and linguistically diverse students (Richert, Alvino, & McDonnel, 1982). Some of the instruments they recommended have remained in use, including Progressive Matrices, Standard (Raven, 1960); SOI Screening Form for Gifted (Meeker & Meeker, 1975); System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment (Mercer & Lewis, 1978); Culture Fair Intelligence Test, Scale 1 (Cattell & Cattell, 1950). Spanish language instruments this author has found useful for measuring academic achievement include Aprenda: La Prueba de Logros en Espanol, Intermediate 2 (Psychological Corporation, 1990); Bateria Woodcock Psico-Educativa en Espanol (Woodcock, 1982); Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, Second Edition, Level 2 (Hampton-Brown Company, 1991); and La Prueba Riverside de Realizacion en Espanol (Cote, 1984). For more information about these instruments and others, readers can refer to the on-line searchable ERIC/AE Test Locator at on the Internet. Other new instruments are being developed, including one specifically designed to identify gifted bilingual Hispanic students. [Note]
THE USE OF MULTIPLE CRITERIA
Most school districts serving gifted and talented bilingual Hispanic students use multiple criteria (Castellano, 1994; Garcia, 1994; Bernal & Reyna, 1974) in the screening and identification processes. Multiple criteria may include, among other items, (a) ethnographic assessment procedures (the student is observed in multiple contexts over time), (b) dynamic assessment (the student is given the opportunity to transfer newly acquired skills to novel situations), (c) portfolio assessment, (d) the use of test scores (performance based and/or nonverbal) in the native or English language (depending on the child's level of fluency), (e) teacher observation, (f) behavioral checklists, (g) past school performance, (h) parent interview, (i) writing samples and other samples of creativity and/or achievement, and (j) input from the cultural group with which the student identifies in the local school community.
Furthermore, Bernal and Reyna (1974) identified several characteristics as typical among gifted Hispanic American children:
Some researchers indicate that opportunities for gifted females have increased, while barriers to their achievement have decreased (Reis & Callahan, 1989). If this is in fact the case, we should see an increasing number of Hispanic girls referred and accepted into gifted and talented programs. While research specifically targeting Hispanic females is scarce, a study of 63 doctoral graduates and candidates conducted by Thorne (1995) found that these high-achieving young women varied on several measures of achievement motivation, but all exhibited low levels of sex-role traditionalism and low-to-average levels of fear of success. Ortiz (1995), in a summary of research on the educational achievement of Hispanic women, found that in comparisons with Hispanic males, females showed slight increases in educational achievement and a consistent trend of doing better than males. She also found that Hispanic women have experienced improvements in participation at all higher education levels. Yet, they remain seriously underrepresented, with only 1% of Mexican American women enrolling in graduate programs.
To increase participation of Hispanic female students in programs for the gifted and talented, both parents and educators must be advocates. Hispanic parents need to nominate their daughters for admittance, and school-based educators need to acquire better skills in identifying gifted and talented females, including students with limited English skills.
Cultural and linguistic minority students have historically been denied access to programs in gifted education. Girls have faced additional barriers to postsecondary and graduate school participation. Thus, special efforts may be warranted in identifying and placing gifted Hispanic females into programs that will recognize and honor their unique talents.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
The process for admission into a program for the gifted and talented is complex at best. Theories, approaches, guidelines, and plans vary across the country, but as more culturally and linguistically diverse students enter the nation's schools, it is imperative to have local programs in place to identify and educate the gifted and talented among them. They should enter these programs while studying to become proficient in English. Otherwise, Hispanic student achievement will continue to lag behind other ethnic groups, as educators fail to recognize the talents of so many students. Recognition of our shortcomings in this regard could serve as the impetus to double our efforts to provide all academically gifted children a chance to excel.
Thanks to grant programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, such as Title VII (bilingual) and Javitz (gifted), school districts across the country have received the necessary funding to develop gifted education program models to identify and serve gifted LEP Hispanic and other bilingual groups.
It is often said that youth are the most important natural resource of a great nation. Gifted programs can help prepare youth of all cultures and languages to become productive citizens and critical thinkers, ensuring that the future of the country is in good hands.
[NOTE] For more information on this screening instrument, contact Dr. Beverly J. Irby at Sam Houston State University or Rafael Lara-Alecio at Texas A&M University. This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. RR93002012. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI, the Department, or AEL.
Barkan, J. H., & Bernal, E. M. (1991). Gifted education for bilingual and limited English proficient students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 35(3), 144-147.
Bermudez, A. B., & Rakow, S. J. (1993). Examining identification and instruction practices for gifted and talented limited English proficient students. In Lillian M. Malave (Ed.), Annual conference journal: Proceedings of the National Association for Bilingual Education Conferences (Tucson, AZ, 1990; Washington, DC, 1991), pp. 99-114. (ED 360 871)
Bernal, E. M., & Reyna, J. (1974). Analysis of giftedness in Mexican American children and design of a prototype identification instrument. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. (ED 090 743)
Castellano, J. A. (1994). The identification of gifted LEP students: An overview for teachers and administrators. National Association for Bilingual Education News, 18(2), 18-22.
Castellano, J. A. (1997). San Diego, California city schools: A lighthouse school district. National Association for Bilingual Education News, 21(3), 29-30.
Cattell, R. B., & Cattell, A. K. S. (1950/1960). Culture fair intelligence test, scale 1. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.
Cote, N. S. (1984). La Prueba Riverside de Realizacion en Espanol. Chicago, IL: Riverside Publishing Co.
Garcia, J. H. (1994). Nonstandardized instruments for the assessment of Mexican-American children for gifted/talented programs. In Addressing cultural and linguistic diversity in special education: Issues and trends. Reston, VA: Division for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners, Council for Exceptional Children. (ED 379 814)
Hampton-Brown Company. (1991). Spanish assessment of basic education, second edition, level 2. Monterey, CA: CTB/MacMillan/McGraw Hill.
Jimenez, M. (1997). Gifted education for LEP students: Of course. Unpublished Manuscript.
Kitano, M. K., & Espinosa, R. (1995). Language diversity and giftedness: Working with gifted English language learners. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 18(3), 234-254.
Maker, C. J. (1996). Identification of gifted minority students: A national problem, needed changes, and a promising solution. Gifted Child Quarterly, 40(1), 41-50.
Meeker, M., & Meeker, R. (1975). SOI screening form for gifted. Vida, OR: SOI Systems.
Mercer, J. R., & Lewis, J. F. (1978). System of multicultural pluralistic assessment. San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement.
Ortiz, F. I. (1995). Mexican American women: Schooling, work, and family (ERIC Digest). Charleston, WV: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. (ED 388 490)
Psychological Corporation. (1990). Aprenda: La Prueba de Logros en Espanol, Intermediate 2. San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement.
Raven, J. C. (1960). Progressive matrices, standard. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation
Reis, S. M., & Callahan, C. M. (1989). Gifted females: They've come a long way--or have they? Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 12(2), 99-117.
Richert, E. S., Alvino, J., & McDonnel, R. (1982). The national report on identification: Assessment and recommendations for comprehensive identification of gifted and talented youth. Sewell, NJ: Education Information and Resource Center, U.S. Department of Education.
Thorne, Y. M. (1995). Achievement motivation in high achieving Latina women. Roeper Review, 18(1), 44-49.
Woodcock, R. W. (1982). Bateria Woodcock Psico-Educativa en Espanol. Chicago, IL: Riverside Publishing Co.
Jaime Castellano is coordinator of Federal Programs at the School District of Palm Beach at West Palm Beach, Florida.
ERIC Digests are in the public domain and may be freely reproduced and disseminated, but please acknolwedge your source. This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educatioinal Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under Contract No. ED-99-CO-0026.
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