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Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education
stract reasoning by having students select which pattern pieces fit best into an overall array or matrix. While the cultural neutrality of the abstract patterns is appealing, its usefulness for gifted and talented identification has not been fully tested. One study found that scores on the test were not related to school performance (Mills et al., 1993), and it does less well at predicting academic achievement than most intelligence tests or specific ability measures (Baska, 1986; Raven, 1990). This does not suggest that the Raven’s is less able to identify exceptional ability; it may be that the students who score well are exceptional in respects not well tapped by school programs. The validity of these alternative methods and their effects on disproportionality are largely unknown, although nonminority and high-income students tend to perform better than their minority, low-income counterparts (Mills et al., 1993).
Noting that state policies have not resulted in uniform adoption of procedures effective in increasing identification of low-income or minority students, Coleman and Gallagher (1992) investigated the factors that inhibited the adoption and implementation at the local level of more flexible and permissive identification policies. They found two major constraints to implementation. The first was a fear that increased numbers of identified students would not be accompanied by an increase in financial resources, and the second was a fear of legal suits that would be filed by parents whose children might have higher test scores but were not selected for the programs (reverse discrimination suits).
While the literature is replete with suggestions for increasing the numbers of black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan Native students, it is much more limited in the documentation of success of alternative strategies in recruiting and retaining such students in gifted and talented programs. However, several innovative efforts have been documented.
One model focused on interactive staff development using core attributes of intellectual giftedness, corresponding observable behaviors (as they might be manifest in low-income and minority populations), and group decision making using multiple assessment tools. It was successful in generating greatly increased numbers of teacher nominations and subsequent identification as gifted (Frasier et al., 1995). A complex system (described by the authors as labor-intensive and time-consuming) using classroom observation, multicultural curriculum-based enrichment activities, standardized assessments, portfolio assessments, teacher nominations for screening and a dynamic assessment tool, literature-based performance assessment, standardized tests, and child interviews demonstrated that academically gifted students could be found “even in the most beleaguered schools” (Borland and Wright, 1994:170). A comprehensive screening of kindergarten children in an urban environment increased the identified 1st grade