Between 1978 and 1997, Hispanic students identified as gifted increased from 5.2% to 8.6% nationally, whereas the overall Hispanic student population went from 6.8% to 14.3% (Gonzalez, 2000). "The Census 2000 data suggests that the 'browning' of U.S. schools will continue. Deduction suggests that, over the next few years, the number of Hispanic students eligible for gifted education will increase steadily" (Castellano, 2004, p. 2).
Minority Students Underrepresented in Gifted Programs
Even as minority populations in America's schools grow, the percentage of students from non-Asian minority backgrounds identified as gifted continues to lag behind the number of White students identified (Ford, Grantham & Milner, 2004).
One of the more commonly identified reasons for this underrepresentation is that teachers -- the majority of whom are white, middle-class women -- don't always recognize gifted characteristics of diverse learners. "Educators who are not prepared to work with and understand culturally diverse students fail to see strengths and potential in diverse learners (Ford, Grantham & Milner, 2004, p. 15). In addition to educating teachers about cultural strengths, gifted programs should include multiple assessment instruments when identifying gifted and talented students.
Although research is ongoing in this field, this is still a concern in gifted education. For more information about identifying students from minority backgrounds, consider the following resources.
National Association for Gifted Children: Equity in Excellence
Beyond the Book Strategies: How to Identify Academically Gifted Minority Students
Cognitively Speaking: How to Identify Academically Gifted Minority Students
National Association for Gifted Children: Identification of Students Who Are Gifted