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Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education
Recommendation RD.1: We recommend that education research and development, including that related to special and gifted education, be systematically expanded to carry promising findings and validated practices through to classroom applicability. This includes research on scaling up promising practices from research sites to widespread use.
Research on what works in special education offers some important principles, but too few well-tested interventions with a solid evaluation of the conditions under which they work and for whom. In particular, the research base with respect to English language learners needs to be strengthened.
While there has been substantial progress on educational interventions for students who are having difficulty learning to read, little is currently known that can guide educational interventions for the nonresponders to reading interventions. Research needs to attend now to this group of students.
We have given relatively little attention either in research or in program development to the education of gifted and talented students. This research base needs to be strengthened substantially.
Features of cultural sensitivity that have an impact on learning outcomes for minority students have not been rigorously researched and evaluated in classroom settings. While a significant amount has been written about culturally appropriate accommodations, many of the recommendations have no empirical basis (such as matching learning styles) and should be avoided. Shoring up the empirical foundation for culturally sensitive teaching practice should be a research priority.
Development is needed of effective mechanisms for communication of research findings to practitioner, policy, and teacher educator communities.
Successful teaching of all students requires a substantive and complex knowledge base in the subject matter being taught, in how children learn, and in pedagogical strategies to promote learning. Understanding the cultural, gender, and other differences in how individual students learn is also an essential skill for effective teaching. Successful in-school implementation of the types of assessments and interventions the committee proposes to maximize educational effectiveness for all students—including the gifted and talented—those who are low achieving and those with disabilities— requires intensive training based on the scientific evidence supporting those strategies. The changes the committee recommends in this report can occur only if there is a significant cadre of well-prepared education professionals and paraprofessionals to implement them. There is ample evidence, how-