Paper created a divided, sport-like feeling of

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper
1: Gifted Identification

Caitlin Crews

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Kennesaw State University

 

 

Paper 1: Gifted Identification

            The identification of gifted children is a historic and current hot topic and
issue in education. Proper identification of gifted children has become very
controversial, and it is a contentious debate in education. The myths
surrounding the identification of gifted children has created a divided,
sport-like feeling of “winners” and “losers based on high-stake assessments and
a flawed identification system. Teachers and students are part of a system with
so many weaknesses that the result is an abundant amount of underrepresented
gifted students.

The
lack of consistency among identification procedures throughout the field of
education has created gaps in justification of identification of gifted
students. What qualifies a student to receive the “gifted” label? This
question, although heavily researched, does not produce a simple, direct
answer. The conception and definition of giftedness
can heavily vary among perception. Hence, the identification and belief that
one is gifted also varies. Is one gifted based solely on IQ? Is there a need to
be more flexible minded in our perception of what gifted means? Historically
speaking, many leading psychologists and educators favored the idea that
giftedness was based on test scores. “The
tradition of
relying
on IQ scores to define one’s ability curried favor with
psychologists and educators as the technology of measurement took hold.
Numbers became the determinant of what students could accomplish in school” (Brown et al., 2005, p.75). Most states and
education programs provide automatic entry into the gifted program if a student
scores a set number high enough in a cognitive abilities test domain. “The
erroneous belief that a gifted person is simply someone with a high
intelligence quotient is already too prevalent” (Renzulli, 2004, p.3). This
belief is also coupled with the fact that students can be referred for gifted
testing based solely on teacher’s opinion. However, we must question the
assumption that all teachers are recognizing gifted traits among their
students. “Because unexpected behaviors often attract attention,
teachers should be cautioned not to nominate students simply because they “do
not fit the mold.” Being different is not a sufficient reason for inclusion in
a gifted program” (Powell & Siegle, 2004, p. 21).Unfortunately, teacher’s
bias beliefs and opinions about a student could influence rather or not he or
she is referred for gifted testing. This could result in an under
identification of gifted children. Students can be gifted and not identified
because they are not gifted in all subject areas. If the student has a behavior
problem or an IEP the teacher may not even consider the student for the gifted
program. In this system, teachers seek out students they want to verify are gifted based on belief, and
this referral system is not really an identifier as much as it is an
identification screener (Renzulli, 2004). “Efforts should be made to
help teachers
understand that there is no single definition for an “all-purpose”
gifted child and that children may not exhibit gifted
characteristics in all aspects of their lives” (Powell &
Siegle, 2004, p. 21). Clearly, the identification of gifted is not simple and
should not be made simple as it is a complex evaluation of the whole child.
Some researchers believe that we spend too much time focusing on identifying
students, and others are searching for more ways to identify all gifted
students. In a system where a child can be identified as gifted in one school
system but not another, certainly supports a need for change and consistency in
identification processes. Clearly, identification procedures will likely
continue to change as we advance in gifted education and strive to meet the
differentiated needs of all students.

Due to the flaws in the gifted identification
process, myths and assumptions have been formed. “A most unfortunate byproduct
of many current approaches to identifying and serving gifted and talented
children is the perception that children are either “in” the program (THE
WINNERS) or they are “not in” the program (THE LOSERS)” (Renzulli, 2004, p.11).
As expected, students labeled “winners” often feel the positive advantages and
special activities that go along with a gifted label. On the contrary, the
“losers” feel inadequate when compared to “winner” peers. When you walk by a
typical gifted classroom, the activities are often engaging and appear fun to
the “losers” further discouraging their confidence and promoting inadequate
feelings (Renzulli, 2004). The myth that gifted students are the only students
that should be exposed to such “fun” activities is one that is completely
unfitting as educators should be providing all
students with engaging, fun learning tasks. Similarly, teachers cannot assume
that the gifted teacher is meeting all the needs for the gifted child. “We
cannot afford to have special resource rooms or special teachers for the
intellectually gifted, the mathematically gifted, the artistically talented,
etc…” (Renzulli, 2004, p.12). Therefore, teachers have to provide individualized
education that allows children the opportunity to enhance their gifted and
talented areas. If teachers were providing all their students with
individualized learning opportunities than even students that are not
identified as gifted would still receive the resources and instructions they
need to be successful, and this would debunk the myth that all gifted are
already identified.  One of the reasons
leading to an under identification of gifted students is assumptions that lie
within the use of test-score cutoffs (Renzulli, 2004). The validity of
standardized testing when used with other criteria can prove to be valuable and
reliable. However, “tests only work for some of the people some of the time-not
for all of the people all of the time-and that certain assumptions we make in
our use of tests are, at best, correct only for a segment of the tested
population, and at worst, correct for none of it” (Renzulli, 2004, p.53).
Assumptions within the test then result in a further under identified
population of gifted students.

In my own personal reflection, I feel that
gifted identification certainly has areas of weaknesses. In our readings, I
personally loved the idea of increasing the contribution of the school
psychologists by examining all children before kindergarten or first
grade.  Being an upper-grade elementary
teacher, it continues to floor me when I have students that are clearly gifted
yet still not identified. When I look in their cumulative folder, I notice
significant gifted traits clearly exhibited on the GKIDS (Kindergarten Report
Card) and portfolio materials. I think that providing early identification
could be key in moving in the “direction of getting children off to a good
start” (Renzulli, 2004, p. 5). Also, I do not believe in the one-size fits all
model currently in place for gifted education. I think we should offer more
individualized instruction within our gifted population to provide these
students with the chance to explore their talented areas. If we could identify
these students before they officially entered elementary school, could you
imagine the student success? I feel that so many of the negative issues that
occur later with gifted students could be avoided if they were provided the
proper education from the beginning. Furthermore, research has shown to us that
giftedness can fall outside the parameters of traditional testing. Students can
be gifted in multiples areas, or they could be gifted in one area. The need for
a broader identification system that addresses the different areas of
giftedness is clearly needed. “They teachers strongly agreed with the
importance of using Multiple Criteria for the identification of gifted and
talented children” (Brown et al., 2005, p.49). I feel
that we need a consistent measure from state-to-state on what identifies
giftedness. I cannot imagine how unfair it must feel as student to walk away
from one school as “gifted” and into another school as “not gifted.” In
retrospect, I also question that fact that we even need to label students. As
educators, we are to provide all students with an academic program that best
meets their needs. If a gifted child were in the classroom without a label, the
teacher should still be providing individualized, differentiated instruction
for that student. The concept is the same for all Response to Intervention
tiers, rather a student is below the 25th percentile or above the 97th
percentile, differentiated instruction is expected among all students. In my
opinion, teachers should spend more time providing support, encouragement and individualized
instruction for their students than testing to see who the “winners” and
“losers” are. 

 

 

References

Brown,
S. W., Renzulli, J. S., Gubbins, E. J., Siegle, D., Zhang, W., & Chen, C.
(2005). Assumptions underlying the identification of gifted and talented students.
Gifted Child Quarterly, 49(1), 68-79.

Powell,
T., & Siegle, D.(2004). Exploring teacher biases when nominating students
for gifted programs. Gifted Child Quarterly, 48(1), 21-29.

Renzulli, J. S., & Reis, S. M. (Eds.). (2004). Identification
of students for gifted and talented programs. Corwin Press.

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