Secondary Gifted Education: Equitable Identification of Gifted Students

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    Gifted education has a long history of advocacy, research, and endeavors in the field of equitable identification of gifted students.  Colangelo, Assouline, and Gross (2004) conclude that a failure to identify and accelerate students appropriately exacerbates the achievement disparities between families with resources and those without.

    “While some have criticized academic acceleration as an intervention for children of wealth, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is parents of economic means who can afford to provide for acceleration if a school doesn’t. They can move their child to a private school, pay for mentoring, or pay for accelerative summer classes and extra-curricular resources. Poor children, though, often have no hope of experiencing a challenging curriculum if a school says no. We are passionate about bringing the truth regarding acceleration to the wider public because we recognize the potential benefits for children. Acceleration is critical to the vast majority of academically gifted children who will not have the means to find alternatives.”

    Dr. Donna Ford, a leading advocate and researcher in the field, poses the question:

     “Why does this matter? The answer is simple: students who go under-challenged can become underachievers and exhibit behavioral problems due to boredom and disengagement. Denied access to gifted education also contributes to the Black-White achievement gap crisis. Underachievers and low achievers are less competitive than high achievers, they have a lower probability of getting into advanced high school courses and academies, eventually, elite colleges and universities and STEM majors. In a nutshell, their career goals and potential are compromised due to denied access to gifted education initially and advanced courses in middle and high school.”  Ford, D. (2002)

    There are copious amounts of research documenting the underrepresentation of minority students on nationally normed standardized tests, including IQ, ACT, SAT, and LSAT, to name a few.


    Reynolds, C et al, 1987


    Hinze, S. (2107)

    Race Gap in Math SAT

    Race Gaps in the SAT, 2017

    Furthermore, many colleges and universities are moving away from reliance on nationally normed, standardized tests like the ACT and SAT for making admissions decisions. 

    “The change is expected to accelerate the momentum of American colleges away from the tests, amid concern that they are unfair to poor, black, and Hispanic students.”  Hubler, S. (2020).

    The CPS website About Us states “Columbia Public Schools is a reflection of our community. It is our vision to be the best school district in our state, and our mission is to provide an excellent education for all our students. Our focus, from preschool to adult career education, is excellence.”  ( (from 2018), In order for CPS to reflect the community and appropriately serve all students, they must be proportionally represented in gifted education offered by the district.

    As a Missouri public school district, we have a state-approved gifted education program which must follow DESE program guidelines.  CPS has a traditional identification plan approved by DESE that is reliable and valid and not perfect.  All tests are imperfect.  Even with reliable and valid testing protocols, gifted kids from certain populations are underrepresented and it is our responsibility to find and serve them. 

    Gifted students exist in every demographic of the community so when the data demonstrate an underrepresentation, our job is to look more closely at the testing instruments, procedures, and protocols and not believe that it’s an inherent difference among the students.  CPS has a supplemental identification plan, approved by DESE, targeting the groups that are underrepresented with the traditional plan. Beginning in January, 2020, utilizing the DESE-approved, targeted identification plan, 82 students have been placed in EEE in middle schools, including 30 students from an underrepresented racial category, 20 students who qualify for free/reduced price meals, 11 students with an IEP and/or 504 plan, 2 English Language (EL) students, and 19 students who are in 2 or more underrepresented categories.


    A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students. (2004). Iowa City, Iowa: The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, University of Iowa.

    Ford, D. (2020). Racial Discrimination Continues to Deny Access to Gifted Education for Black Students: A Few Reality Checks, (attached as

    Hinze, S. (2017). The Inequality within the ACT and SAT and the road to closing the Gap,

    Hubler, S. (2020). University of California Will End Use of SAT and ACT in Admissions,

    Race gaps in the SAT – (2017). Brookings Institution,

    Reynolds, C. R., Chastain, R. L., Kaufman, A. S. and Mclean, J. E. (Win 1987). Demographic Characteristics and IQ among Adults - Analysis of the WAIS-R Standardization Sample as a Function of the Stratification Variables. Journal of School Psychology 25 (4): 323-342