Underserved Gifted Populations - Introduction
Underrepresented Gifted Populations.
Underrepresented gifted populations are living in a world of educational reform and high stakes testing unlike any other. At this juncture, we cannot predict what the full impact of the Common Core Standards and its accompanying testing regimen will be. What we do know is that in classrooms struggling to make the grade, high-stakes tests often become the standard, particularly in districts that have less human and material resources. What impact does this have for underrepresented gifted students? They often spend their days in an atmosphere of tension, often losing whatever exposure they had to the broad, culture-rich, and creative content they need.
Some teachers and parents already feel a narrowing effect on the curriculum with less emphasis on the humanities and the arts. Talented learners with unrecognized abilities and special learning needs struggle to cope with the pressures of increasing tests and the academic demand that restricts creative or imaginative thinking. Those without adults who understand and support them often slip through the cracks. E. Paul Torrance once wrote about a highly gifted first grader from the projects, Tammy Debbins, who had an IQ of 177. By third grade, her performance slipped to average and in high school, she became frustrated that she wasn’t “very smart” (1980, p. 152). This was in the 1980s. Here we are in 2014 and we have to ask, will the new era of reform and testing make a difference for children like Tammy or the student populations discussed in this Journal?
The articles in this Journal offer a refreshing and wholesome counterbalance to the sense of constriction, tension, and pressure that pervades many districts today. With years of experience working with underserved gifted students, the authors explore a wide range of needs and behaviors among different groups of gifted learners. Articles discuss common misconceptions and raise serious questions related to identification, social/emotional needs, and appropriate instruction and resources (including hands-on, creative) for vulnerable gifted students.
The authors encourage readers to look deeply and broadly at their students, rather than relying on narrow assessments that cannot measure real growth and learning, or unveil underlying problems. What do these students really need? How can we best support their resilience? What teaching strategies and materials will draw on their strengths and help them address their weaknesses? They offer the kind of expertise and creative and practical ideas that can guide teachers, parents, and administrators to make a real difference in the lives of these highly able learners.
Torrance, E.P. (1980). Growing up creatively gifted: A 22-year longitudinal study. Creative Child and Adult Quarterly, 5(3)m 148-158, 170.
Founder and Director of the Center for Gifted and Midwest Torrance Center for Creativity, Joan Franklin Smutny has designed and implemented programs for thousands of gifted children from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. She has authored, co-authored, and edited many books on gifted education for teachers and parents, including Stand Up for Your Gifted Child (2001), Igniting Creativity in Gifted Learners, K-6 (2009), Differentiating for the Young Child: Teaching Strategies Across the Content Areas, Pre-K-3 (2nd edition, 2010), Teaching Advanced Learners in the General Education Classroom (2011), and Discovering and Developing Talents in Spanish-Speaking Students (2012), and Great Women Leaders and You (2014).