- Gifted education has historically involved disproportionate rates of identification and enrollment for both students of color and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, depriving these groups of more challenging learning opportunities. Giftedness transcends subgroups, spanning all racial, socioeconomic, and disability categories; still, data indicate that Asian and White students are identified and enrolled in gifted programs at rates exceeding their respective proportions (overrepresented) within the general student population. Conversely, the rates for Black, Hispanic, and American Indian students enrolled in gifted education are smaller than their respective proportions (underrepresented) within the general student population. This dissertation aims to disrupt current educational practices by provoking a reevaluation of gifted policy, bringing multicultural considerations to the forefront, and applying inferential statistics to disproportionality data rather than relying solely on descriptive reports.
These studies used a cross-sectional observational design with two research arms. Arm A was designed to determine disproportionality rates within a large and diverse school district; Arm B was constructed to examine national disproportionality rates. The two-pronged, micro/macro approach allowed for the determination of disproportionality rates present in extant databases across special student populations, such as race, gender, SES, disability status, and language proficiency status. The data of participants enrolled in gifted programs were then compared to the total number of students from those special populations, yielding a range of proportionality. In specific terms, Arm A looked at prevalence rates by race/ethnicity, gender, and SES for elementary students enrolled for gifted services, while also asking whether the relevant race/ethnicity, gender, and SES proportions differed from those within the general student population. For its part, Arm B examined Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program enrollment and focused on whether disproportionalities exist in student populations according to race/ethnicity, IDEA status, and ELL status, while also exploring the ranking of U.S. states in terms of racial disproportionalities in GATE program enrollment. Both studies deployed descriptive and inferential analyses, including a one-sample z test of proportions.
Across both arms, results indicated and confirmed statistically significant disproportionalities among all variables, in both local and national samples. Findings specifically showed that each state across the nation contained racial disproportionalities in enrollment data for underrepresented groups. The largest racial disproportionalities among states were almost all located in the south-east region of the U.S. Results indicate causes of disproportionalities lurk beneath assessment and identification procedures, which are the most common arguments made in the literature. The present study argues that disproportionalities in gifted education are rooted in a culture-bound construct that guides our society’s conceptualization of giftedness itself.