How Should Schools Screen for Giftedness? Cultural Considerations in the Identification of Gifted Students by Christopher Redding (2024)

The basis for gifted and talented programs is the somewhat innocuous notion that a subset of children are capable of high levels of performance and may benefit from educational services outside a traditional classroom setting. A critical first step in meeting the educational needs of such children is screening, followed by the formal identification of those that have the potential to thrive with additional academic supports. In most districts, students can be identified as gifted in five areas: general intellectual ability, specific academic ability, visual and performing arts, and leadership. Yet, intellectual ability, often measured by IQ tests, has long been the predominant factor in determining placement in gifted and talented programs.

Given that students historically and currently marginalized by the educational system tend to underperform on such assessments, it may come as no surprise to readers that students who identify as Black or Latina/Latino are underrepresented in gifted and talented programs compared to White students.An analysis of datafrom the Office of Civil Rights from the 2011-2012 school year show that 7.63% of White students participate in gifted and talented programs compared to 3.35% of Latina/Latino students and 3.17% of Black students.

Yet, differences in test performance are not the only factor explaining racial and ethnic disparities in gifted and talented program participation.ResearchI conducted with Jason Grissom shows the identification of gifted students includes factors unrelated to performance or ability. Instead, teachers play an outsized role in determining the students screened for giftedness in the first place. That teachers often function as gatekeepers in determining which students are referred for gifted evaluations is of concern given substantial evidence of more negative perceptions of Black and Latina/Latino. Teachers’ racialized perceptions of their students may lead them to consciously or unconsciously draw on stereotypes that influence how they evaluate the classroom behavior and academic performance in ways consequential for gifted referral. For instance, a student may disengage from course material for a variety of reasons. They may not see the relevance of the material. They may not find the material particularly challenging. Out-of-school factors also shape the child’s ability to focus in class. How a teacher comes to interpret these classroom behaviors results from their understanding of the student’s cultural background. A teacher’s implicit and explicit biases may lead them to overlook the potential of a child, particularly when the child’s racial or ethnic identity is different from the teachers. My research with Dr. Grissom suggests that among Black students, being assigned to a Black teacher is linked to increased assignment to gifted programs, partially closing disparities in access to these educational services.

How should schools screen for giftedness?
One approach to overcoming racial and ethnic disparities in gifted program participation has been the expansion of the definition of giftedness. District and state definitions of giftedness now often include additional criteria, such as creativity or visual and performing arts ability. In such instances, evaluation is done in a more holistic fashion, with psychologists, teachers, parents, and other school personnel assessing a student’s academic potential based on themultiple criteria method. Proponents of this approach contend that moving beyond intellectual ability as the sole determinant in deciding giftedness allows for a more comprehensive picture of a child’s talents, thereby creating the potential for more equitable assessment.

Still, even if all students had an equal chance of being referred for gifted screening, more affluent White students may still be more likely to be identified as gifted. First, as the gifted screening process becomes more complicated, more affluent White families are often better positioned—often through social networks and knowledge of school processes—to influence the process in favor of their child. Second, children from more affluent families may have greater exposure to out-of-school enrichment opportunities that foster the very skills valued as part of a gifted evaluation portfolio. Third, affluent parents may hire costly private psychologists rather than rely on school-based psychologists, an expense that families who are low-income may not be able to afford. In short, the involvement of teachers and parents in the referral and identification process has the potential to result in the systematic underassignment of students historically marginalized by the educational system. To curb this trend, school stakeholders could more actively support and advocate for children of color who are low-income.

Another approach to gifted referrals involves the universal screening of all students. This approach has seen the greatest use in Florida, where the state’s “Plan B” policy encourages school districts to adopt strategies to increase the number of low-income and English language learners in gifted programs.In one Florida district, the adoption of universal screening was linked to an 80% increase in the number of Black students and 130% increase in Latina/Latino students. Yet, universal screening remains costly and gains made in the district were largely lost when universal screening was abandoned in the face of budget costs during the Great Recession. As districts that implement the Plan B policy often set different thresholds for being referred for a gifted evaluation, parents and other critics argue that it isunfairor itreduces the rigor of gifted programs.

Despite its promise, universal screening may do little to improve the representation of students of color in gifted programs unless accompanied by enhanced teacher and administrator training in identifying giftedness among racially and ethnically diverse students. Concerns also remain about cultural biases in the instruments used to screen for giftedness as well as the continued use of standardized achievement scores as a determinant of who is eligible for screening in the first place. More broadly, the sensitivity of the identification procedure raises broader questions about the arbitrary nature of the term “gifted,” a term that may be consequential for a student’s own beliefs about their potential. Further, the body of evidence on themalleability of intelligenceunderscores the importance of the continued cultivation of a child’s intellectual ability, regardless of whether or not a child is labeled as gifted by the educational system.

As a first step, school and district administrators can critically examineprogrammatic equityin gifted programs under their purview. Evidence of the underrepresentation of certain student groups can be followed by an examination of the policies and school practices related to the referral and screening of gifted students that may lead to inequities in receipt of gifted services.


Ford, D. Y., Moore III, J. L., & Scott, M. T. (2011). Key theories and frameworks for improving the recruitment and retention of African American students in gifted education.The Journal of Negro Education, 80(3), 239–253.

Grissom, J. A., & Redding, C. (2016). Discretion and disproportionality: Explaining the underrepresentation of high-achieving students of color in gifted programs.AERA Open, 2(1), 2332858415622175.

Grissom, J. A., Rodriguez, L. A., & Kern, E. C. (2017). Teacher and principal diversity and the representation of students of color in gifted programs: Evidence from national data.The Elementary School Journal, 117(3), 396–422.

Lareau, A., & Horvat, E. M. (1999). Moments of social inclusion and exclusion race, class, and cultural capital in family-school relationships.Sociology of Education, 72(1), 37–53.

Tenenbaum, H. R., & Ruck, M. D. (2007). Are teachers’ expectations different for racial minority than for European American students? A meta-analysis.Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 253–273.

Author bio:Christopher Redding is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education at the University of Florida. He earned his doctorate in Leadership and Policy Studies from Vanderbilt University. He conducts rigorous research using survey and administrative data that focuses on the policies and educator labor market patterns that exacerbate the unequal distribution of high quality teachers and the reforms intended to reduce this problem. Broadly, this research describes failures in the teacher labor market that impede the learning opportunities for underserved students and the ways in which changes in teacher education, development, and leadership opportunities can lead to better teacher retention and student outcomes, particularly in underserved schools.

How Should Schools Screen for Giftedness? Cultural Considerations in the Identification of Gifted Students by Christopher Redding (2024)


How can gifted and talented students be identified? ›

Gifted students are capable of high performance, exceptional production, or exceptional learning behavior by virtue of any or a combination of these areas of giftedness:
  1. General or specific intellectual ability.
  2. Specific academic aptitude.
  3. Creative or productive thinking.
  4. Leadership abilities.

What are the identification and assessment methods of gifted and talented students? ›

They include achievement tests, which measure what students have already learned and ability tests, or IQ tests which measure student capabilities. Autistic, deaf, and other nonverbal students can be identified as gifted and talented through nonverbal tests.

Why is it necessary for the teacher to identify the gifted and talented students in the classroom? ›

This allows educators to see the difference between a high achieving student and a gifted student. Gifted students are not only high achievers, but they are also naturally able to add a global context to their learning.

What is the most common way in which students are determined to be eligible for gifted programs? ›

Identifying gifted kids can be done through many types of tests. Some schools screen entire grades of students in early elementary years, while others may use a partial or full-scale IQ test or other aptitude or achievement tests on an individual basis if students appear to be achieving above their grade level.

How teachers can identify gifted students in the classroom? ›

What to look for in a student that could be Gifted and Talented
  • IQ Testing. Average scores fall between 85–115 on a standard IQ test, with 100 being considered typical. ...
  • Exceptional Talent. ...
  • High Achievement. ...
  • Unique Disposition. ...
  • Imagination and Humor. ...
  • Extraordinary Vocabulary. ...
  • Advanced Interests.
Jun 13, 2022

What are 5 indicators of gifted or talented students? ›

Common Characteristics of Gifted Children:
  • Ability to comprehend material several grade levels above their age peers.
  • Surprising emotional depth and sensitivity at a young age.
  • Strong sense of curiosity.
  • Enthusiastic about unique interests and topics.
  • Quirky or mature sense of humor.

Which test is most appropriate for identifying highly gifted students? ›

Independent IQ tests, such as the WISC-IV, Stanford-Binet, and Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children are more accurate for gifted children. An IQ test of 85-114 is average. A test between 115 and 129 is referred to as mild giftedness, 130-144 moderate giftedness, and 145 to 159 high giftedness.

How can we identify children who are gifted talented and creative? ›

However, besides achievement tests, there are also ability tests that students can take that may reveal giftedness. These tests include IQ tests, the Stanford Binet test, and the Wescher Intelligence Scale for Children test. These are only a few of the tests that students may take.

How do you determine giftedness? ›

Using a standard IQ test with a score of 100 as the "norm," those children who earn 130 or above are considered gifted; 145 is profoundly gifted. In other instances, assessment may be based on a combination of intelligence test scores, creativity, and ability to focus on a task.

What are the benefits of identifying gifted students? ›

The Advantages of Gifted Education
  • Positive Self-Concept. Being labeled as gifted certainly is a boost to one's self-esteem. ...
  • Academic Challenge. ...
  • Academic Engagement. ...
  • Raises Level of Instruction. ...
  • Student Achievement. ...
  • Future Success. ...
  • Socialization. ...
  • Negative Self-Concept.

Why is it important for teachers to know their students culture? ›

Teaching diversity exposes students to various cultural and social groups, preparing students to become better citizens in their communities. These culturally responsive teaching strategies will help you to promote diversity in the classroom.

How gifted students are identified in Canada? ›

If your child scores within the 95th and 97th percentile in the group assessment, they can take an individual assessment with a member of DDSB's psychological services. Students who are 98th percentile or above after the individual assessment, can participate in the DDSB gifted program.

What are the three criteria a student must meet to be eligible for gifted services in the state of Florida? ›

This rule states that a gifted student is “one who has superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance.” The minimum evaluations for determining eligibility are: need for a special instructional program, evidence of characteristics of the gifted, and evaluation documenting intellectual development.

What is the most important factors for giftedness? ›

Socioeconomic status, the level of household income, can have a distinct effect on student development. Students from homes with a higher income level are much more likely to be identified as gifted than children who live beneath the poverty level.

What are the characteristics of effective teachers for gifted children? ›

Teachers of the gifted must be flexible and insightful. They must also be strong communicators with a high level of social awareness. These traits can be worked on over time so that relationships with gifted students and their families can truly flourish and gifted students can make the most of their abilities.

What is a teachers role in gifted education? ›

A gifted teacher's responsibility is to provide services to children identified for the local program. Gifted programming looks different in each school. A gifted teacher's responsibilities may include: Developing and implementing your child's education plan.

What should be a priority for teachers of gifted students? ›

All teachers should recognize the learning differences, developmental milestones and cognitive/affective characteristics of gifted and talented students, including those from diverse backgrounds, and identify their related academic and social-emotional needs.

How do you tell if a child is gifted and talented? ›

Signs of Giftedness in Children Include:

an ability to learn and process complex information rapidly. a need to explore subjects in surprising depth. an insatiable curiosity, as demonstrated by endless questions and inquiries. ability to comprehend material several grade levels above their age peers.

How are gifted students different from regular students? ›

Gifted children have a high level of metacognitive knowledge and awareness. They think about their own ways of knowing, remembering, and understanding. They have insights that non-gifted children do not have. Superior metacognitive ability is considered an essential component of giftedness.

What are the most easily identifiable types of gifted and talented learners? ›

Type I – The Successful

Perhaps as many as 90% of identified gifted students in school programs are Type I's. Children who demonstrate the behavior, feelings, and needs classified as Type I's have learned the system. They have listened closely to their parents and teachers.

What should be considered in selecting a tool for use in identifying gifted students? ›

When selecting nationally normed, standardized instruments for the identification of gifted and talented students, educators should consider the following questions: • What is the purpose for the assessment? Is the assessment valid for its purpose? Is the assessment reliable? Does the assessment measure exceptionality?

What are the 7 areas of giftedness? ›

Gifted Identification

L.A. Unified identifies students as gifted/talented in seven ability categories: Intellectual, High Achievement, Specific Academic, Leadership, Creative, Visual Arts and Performing Arts.

What are the five 5 areas of giftedness? ›

A: Screening for gifted and talented students must include all five categories of giftedness (general intellectual aptitude, specific academic aptitude, creative or divergent thinking, leadership, and the visual or performing arts).

What are the 4 areas of giftedness? ›

Giftedness falls into one or more of the following areas: intellectual, academic, creative, artistic and leadership.

How is giftedness defined and measured? ›

Giftedness refers to having exceptional intellectual abilities, as measured by standardised academic assessments. Generally an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of 130 and above is required to identify a gifted child. This equals to an intellectual ability that is better than 95% of children at the same age level.

What are 3 needs of gifted students? ›

Ideally, gifted students require three components to maximize their potential: a safe and flexible learning environment, proper academic rigor, and dual focus on social-emotional learning.

Why is it important to challenge gifted and talented students? ›

Productive struggle is an entry point to reasoning, problem-solving, and finding resources to break through learning roadblocks. Challenging gifted students to learn from their mistakes prepares them for the real world, increases their cognitive abilities, and spurs personal growth.

What is an example of cultural awareness in schools? ›

With multicultural classes, you can encourage cultural awareness by having the students explore and share one another's culture. For example, ask students to give presentations on their home countries or include cultural celebrations, such as Chinese New Year, Songkran, etc.

How do you demonstrate cultural awareness in the classroom? ›

To incorporate cultural awareness into your classroom curriculum, you should:
  1. Express interest in the ethnic background of your students. ...
  2. Redirect your role in the classroom from instructor to facilitator. ...
  3. Maintain a strict level of sensitivity to language concerns. ...
  4. Maintain high expectations for student performance.
Nov 30, 2014

How do you promote cultural awareness? ›

Use these tips from the American Psychological Association to be more culturally aware:
  1. Think beyond race and ethnicity. A person's culture is shaped by more than the color of their skin or the way that they dress. ...
  2. Learn by asking. ...
  3. Make local connections. ...
  4. Pay attention to non-verbal behaviors. ...
  5. Exchange stories.
Jul 22, 2019

What is a way to assess gifted and talented students in the classroom? ›

Gifted Assessment

Testing is one of many tools utilized in an assessment and may include both quantitative and qualitative measurements. The quantitative measures can include intelligence testing, which evaluates a child's cognitive abilities, and achievement testing, which evaluates a child's knowledge.

How do you assess gifted and talented students? ›

They include achievement tests, which measure what students have already learned and ability tests, or IQ tests which measure student capabilities. Autistic, deaf, and other nonverbal students can be identified as gifted and talented through nonverbal tests.

What are 3 important instructional considerations for students who are gifted why? ›

gain understanding of self and others • explore their own learning strengths and needs • learn and practise coping skills that assist in their growth and development • take risks and see mistakes as learning opportunities • practise leadership and service within the school community.

What are the two main strategies for serving gifted and talented students? ›

The two main strategies for serving gifted and talented children are acceleration and enrichment.

What is the most common method for identifying gifted students? ›

Formal identification of gifted children

If you think your child might be gifted, you can see an educational psychologist for an IQ test and a report on your child's advanced learning. This report is likely to focus mostly on academic learning but often includes notes about social and emotional gifts too.

What are some of the factors affecting gifted students? ›

Some of the most common problem areas for gifted children include the following:
  • Sensitivities and Overexcitabilities.
  • Social Skills.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Self-Concept.
Oct 6, 2021

How do you know if you are gifted and talented? ›

Signs of Giftedness
  • perceptive, inquiring minds.
  • unusual insight and intellectual curiosity.
  • superior judgment and reasoning ability.
  • abstract and critical thinking.
  • originality.
  • ability to see connections between ideas.
  • long concentration spans in areas of interest.
  • advanced reading ability.

What does it mean to be identified as gifted and talented? ›

Definition of Gifted and Talented

exhibits high performance capability in an intellectual, creative, or artistic area; possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or. excels in a specific academic field.

How do you assess for giftedness? ›

Gifted Assessment

Testing is one of many tools utilized in an assessment and may include both quantitative and qualitative measurements. The quantitative measures can include intelligence testing, which evaluates a child's cognitive abilities, and achievement testing, which evaluates a child's knowledge.

Which is the most common profile of gifted learners? ›

Early and rapid learning

One of the most common characteristics of gifted students is their ability to learn things early and rapidly.

Who are usually the first to notice a child's gifts and talents? ›

Parents are often the first to notice the child's peculiarities and guide them in the first steps of identifying the specific potential or talent profile.

Do you think identifying gifted and talented learners is necessary? ›

Identification of gifted students is essential to see who would most benefit from special services. In many cases, the identification process provides opportunities to locate those students who hide their talents and those bright students who are achieving at a level well below their capabilities.


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