Educators, administrators, and experts in the field of education came together last Saturday in a summit dedicated to better serving underrepresented gifted students. The summit, held in partnership with Center for Talent Development, the Illinois Association for Gifted Children, and Illinois School District U-46, covered ground ranging from equitable identification of students to culturally responsive practices.
“Otherness is a heavy weight to carry,” noted presenter April Wells. The challenges for students are wide reaching but are often overlooked. For example, a student from a low-income family may gain access to a specialized academic program but struggle with transportation getting there. Educators must pay attention because significant excellence gaps exist: low-income and minority students are much less likely to reach advanced levels of proficiency than their white and more affluent peers (see Plucker, Burroughs & Song, 2008). The differences are often perpetuated by “belief gaps,” which are internalized by students and may be perpetuated by educators. For a closer examination of the figures and the issues in addressing underserved gifted populations, view the presenters’ slides from the summit:
So what can we do to support equity and access? Here are just a few takeaways offered up by the presenters:
The presenters shared many stories of hope and examples of success but also emphasized that the work is just getting started. It takes a long time to make wide-reaching change, and continuing to confront this issue and building partnerships is of vital importance. We encourage readers to continue the conversation in the comments section below.