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Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education
practices as well as substantial continuing education efforts. The promise, however, of better outcomes justifies the difficulties and costs associated with making these changes.
IQ Tests and Gifted and Talented Determination
Programs for the gifted and talented can be academic programs, leadership programs, or arts (including music) programs. IQ testing is relevant only to the first. Identification for academically gifted programs, to be responsive to available interventions, should identify those students in a discipline who require and can profit from instruction that moves at a quicker pace, and that explores topics in more depth and complexity if that is what gifted programs have to offer.
While objections to IQ as a measure of innate intelligence are many, few would contest the evidence that IQ predicts school success. It may well be that IQ tests capture the same skills and abilities as are captured by successful school performance, and that neither is a measure of innate intelligence. Even so, IQ tests may successfully identify students who are most likely to succeed in programs for the academically gifted. Snow (1995) argued that despite its many drawbacks, IQ tests do successfully identify the ability to deal with complexity. To the extent that gifted programs provide access to accelerated and more complex curricula, IQ test results may be relevant to placement. Scores for verbal and quantitative subtests should be considered separately, however, since mathematical and verbal giftedness are separate dimensions (Benbow and Minor, 1990), and a single score should never be used in isolation.
In a homogeneous, middle-class, suburban school, the above arguments may be persuasive. The more diverse the tested population, however, the greater the challenge to those arguments. Student who do not excel on IQ tests, as argued above, may be less familiar with testing procedures, and for reasons of background and culture they may have less familiarity with the types of items on the test. As the body of research reviewed above suggests, their reasoning capacity and skilled performance may be exceptional when the referents are familiar, but unexceptional in the context of the test. If the characteristic that distinguishes academically gifted students from their peers is advanced ability to learn, unfamiliarity with test taking and with test items may obscure that ability.
Research done by Sternberg and colleagues (1999, 2001) in Tanzania lends empirical support for this concern. A sample of 358 schoolchildren were given intelligence tests. They were then given a 5 to 10 minute period of instruction in which they were able to learn skills that would potentially enable them to improve their scores. When they were retested, the students registered on average small, statistically significant gains. Importantly,