Recruiting and Retaining Underrepresented Gifted Students

  • Donna Y. Ford
  • Gilman W. Whiting

In this chapter, we examine barriers to the recruitment and retention of CLD students in gifted programs, including advanced placement (AP) classes. In addition to discussing barriers, we propose recommendations. Several premises guide our work and this chapter. First, we recognize that change is difficult—resistance to changing is high, specifically if it threatens the status quo. We also recognize that, as we seek to preserve the status quo, a significant segment of our student population is denied access to programs that they are legally entitled to participate in. Second, we believe that increasing access to gifted education cannot occur unless we decrease and, ideally, eliminate, deficit thinking about CLD students. This move away from low and negative expectations requires substantive training and preparation, as well as leadership to set the tone and ensure accountability. Third, we believe that many policies and procedures must be viewed through a lens of equity so that we can see more fully their impact on underrepresentation. A further assumption and proposition is that no group has a monopoly on “giftedness.” Giftedness exists in every cultural group and across all economic strata (USDE, 1993). Consequently, there should be little or no underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minority students in gifted education. A fourth premise is that giftedness is a social construct; subjectivity guides definitions, assessments, and perceptions of giftedness (Pfeiffer, 2003; Sternberg, 1985). This subjectivity contributes to segregated gifted education programs in numerous and insidious ways. Sapon-Shevon (1996) states that “the ways in which gifted education is defined, constituted, and enacted lead directly to increased segregation, limited educational opportunities for the majority of students, and damage to children’s social and political developments” (p. 196). Accordingly, educators must examine their views about the purposes of gifted education in particular and their perceptions of students from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.


Minority Student Black Student Diverse Student American Educational Research Association Multicultural Education 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna Y. Ford
  • Gilman W. Whiting

There are no affiliations available

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