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Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education
scores on the pretest showed only weak correlations with scores on the posttest. This suggests that for populations inexperienced with test taking, a small amount of training can change scores significantly. More importantly, it suggests that initially high-scoring students are not necessarily those who learned most from instruction. The authors found that the posttraining scores were better predictors of transfer to other cognitive performance tasks than were the pretraining scores.
The research base, in the committee’s view, is not sufficiently developed to permit either a complete embrace or a complete rejection of IQ testing for placement in gifted and talented programs. The lack of a consensus, coupled with well-reasoned questions concerning the validity of psychometric intelligence tests, provides sufficient warrant for supporting multiple means of assessment at this time.
But multiple means of assessment, based on a lack of scholarly consensus, should be considered only a temporary measure. The committee regards it as a priority matter that the findings from research on the contextual basis of test performance, as well as other aspects articulated in the wide-ranging scholarly critique of decontextualized intelligence testing, be engaged in an effort to study the implications of culture and context on efforts to assess children for gifted and talented placement. As with assessment for special education, assessment alternatives should be anchored in an understanding of the characteristics of students that constitute a need for a different educational program, and should be valid with respect to the gifted programs available to students.
The short-term resolution of this dilemma is crafted in light of the existing state of knowledge and the desirability of continuing to provide exceptional learners with interventions that support their genuinely different educational needs. The short-term resolution should not, however, become the de facto appropriate means of assessment.
ALTERNATIVES TO TRADITIONAL CLASSIFICATION AND PLACEMENT
We now turn to alternative approaches to assessment that would better match student need to program interventions. It is important to emphasize that the current methods of identifying students with low-incidence disabilities are not the focus of this discussion; it is assumed that the current practices regarding determining eligibility and special education needs for these students will continue. The overarching theme in this discussion is improving achievement and social learning outcomes for all children and youth, including the minority students currently disproportionately represented in the MR, ED, and gifted and talented categories.