students in particular is very limited. The dearth of research on specific interventions is consistent with funding patterns to support identification of and programming for these populations. Patton et al. (1990) surveyed state directors of gifted programs and found that 82.6 percent (43 states) had no specific funds allocated for disadvantaged but gifted students. No state indicated separate program standards. Although most of the model projects funded by the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program focused on the identification and development of giftedness in underserved populations (Ross, 1994), the collection of data with control or comparison groups was rare.
Qualitative analysis of teacher and parent responses has been conducted in case studies of low-income and minority children (Tomlinson et al., 1997a). It indicates that even modest affirmation of talent and intervention, using a model of instruction based on structuring learning experiences to address student interests and cultural differences, which focused on hands-on learning and recognizing varied learning strengths (verbal, spatial, linguistic), brought about transformations in student learning behaviors as perceived by parents and teachers. This approach also resulted in greater identification of these students as gifted in later years.
Initial research using a language arts unit of the Integrated Curriculum Model (discussed in an earlier section) provides preliminary data on effectiveness for lower-SES groups (VanTassel-Baska et al., 2002). It demonstrated equal gains between high-SES students and a low-SES group composed of 72 percent of students on free or reduced lunch status and 67 percent minority (unspecified).
The early intervention projects designed to close the achievement gap between minority and low-SES children have largely focused on the general success of the programs, not on the issue of giftedness. However, Gandara (2000) concludes that these programs in general have an impact on higher-level functioning for children who are not at serous risk (p. 24). In one study that examined the factors associated with particularly high levels of academic achievement of Head Start students in 1st grade, the authors attributed the outcome to features of the home environment (Robinson et al., 1998). Gandara (2000) also concludes from her review of the school reform initiatives at the elementary school level that “school-wide reform efforts directed toward strengthening the curriculum (among other things) can have an impact on raising the achievement of high achieving African-Americans to even higher levels, conceivably to a level commensurate with gifted performance, at least in math” (p. 26). The conclusion she reaches about precollege programs, such as A Better Chance, Upward Bound, and I Have a Dream, is that while these programs are successful in increasing college attendance rates, there is striking “absence of evidence that these programs have a significant impact on academic performance” (p. 29).