Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Education

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

Imbeau, Marcia

Reader

Carter, Vinson

Second Reader

Kindall, Heather

Abstract

School administrators are constantly looking for ways to make learning accessible for all students, and gifted education is no different. The process of identifying a gifted student is a difficult one at best, only made more difficult with language barriers. However, inattention to gifted English Language Learners can have detrimental effects as feelings of culture shock and homesickness combine with feeling intellectually different than one’s peers. This study investigates the current procedures for identifying and providing for all gifted learners to determine if eligibility and participation is dependent on linguistic ability. The study consisted of interviewing three District Coordinators of Gifted and Talented Programs and looking to current research of best practices. The goal was to understand if and how these practices can be realistically carried out in school districts. All districts are located in the same state and interviews took place in one-on-one settings within the district offices. The three districts had English Language Learner populations of 45%, 33%, and 17% respectively from which to identify students. The Gifted population made up 9.6%, 8.4%, and 7.6% of the school districts respectively. These districts are exceeding state expectations for identification of gifted students and have relatively high populations of English Language Learners from which to pull from. Each Coordinator was asked an identical set of ten questions concerning their district’s methods for identifying students they believe to be gifted, their philosophy about the purpose and effects of gifted programming on a student’s development, and their specific gifted units of study. This study found that in these districts, English Language Learners are on average, 58.995% less likely to be identified as gifted compared to their native English speaking peers in the same district. Contributing factors include poor use and an absence of quality non-verbal, culturally responsive identification tools. Despite these disparities, it seems that Coordinators of these districts understand the significance of gifted programming on a student’s growth and therefore have created accessible units of study that emphasize the local community, positive mentorship, and personal choice. Research shows that the best way for these districts to improve identification methods is to employ culturally responsive checklists which look for signs of giftedness in the specific, situational ways in which English Language Learners most likely demonstrate their exceptionalities. Ultimately, districts appear to recognize the importance of serving all gifted students who are eligible, but there is more research to be done in order to implement reliable, accurate methods of identification for those who cannot express themselves through English.

Keywords: English Language Learners, Giftedness, Renzulli, Interview