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Fostering Diversity in Gifted Education

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 We support and develop policies and practices that encourage and respond to the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups.

NAGC Mission Statement

Like most professions, the field of education is filled with jargon and acronyms. This may explain why the term  CLED, which stands for Culturally, Linguistically, and Ethnically Diverse individuals, may be as frequently overlooked as the many traditionally underrepresented gifted and talented students who sit in America's classrooms today. Although you may find this statement difficult to believe in this day and age, the research indicates that there is still plenty of work left to do to carry NAGC's mission forward:

In 2002, the National Research Council published Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education (2002).  The volume contains information about the striking overall pattern of underrepresentation of CLED students in programs and services for the gifted and talented.  The Committee on Minority Representation in Special Education, the task force that authored the work, drew several conclusions and generalizations:

  • The limited minority presence among top students is found using virtually all traditional measures of academic achievement, including school grades, standardized test scores, and class rank.

  • Extensive under representation is present at all levels of the educational system, beginning in kindergarten.

  • The limited presence of several minority groups among high achieving students cuts across class lines, that is, "substantial minority-majority achievement gaps exist at all social class levels as measured by parent education and family income." (National Research Council, 2002, p. 81)Girl 2

These conclusions are a call to arms for every practitioner in our field.  If we are to provide equitable access to high-level services and programs, we must address the striking patterns of disproportionality that exist in gifted programs and services in all parts of our country.  This report must be viewed as a critical point of departure for our field, not a destination.

If I could give you one thought, it would be to lift someone up.  Lift a stranger up--lift her up. I would ask you, mother and father,  brother and sister, lovers, mother and daughter, father and son, lift someone.  The very idea of lifting someone up will lift you, as well.

Maya Angelou (U.S. writer and actor, 1928- )

Related Articles

"Parents as Models: Respecting and Embracing Differences" by Jean Sunde Peterson

"Identifying and Nurturing the Gifted Poor" by Paul D. Slocumb and Ruby K. PayneBoy

"With the Eyes of a Teacher " by Mary Ruth Coleman

"Providing access for culturally diverse gifted students: from deficit to dynamic thinking" by Donna Ford & Tarek Grantham

Read Chapter One of In Search of the Dream: Designing Schools and Classrooms That Work for High Potential Students From Diverse Cultural Backgrounds(pdf), a joint service publication from NAGC and the NRC/GT. 

Download a copy of "Understanding Culture," an informative brochure (pdf) from the National Istitute for Urban School Improvement.

 No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger that its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.

 ~ Marian Anderson (U.S. contralto, 1897-1993)

ERIC Digests

"Communicating With Culturally Diverse Parents of Exceptional Children"

"Identifying and Serving Recent Immigrant Children Who Are Gifted"

"Infusing Multicultural Content into the Curriculum for Gifted Students"

"Minorities in Science and Math"

"School-College Alliances: Benefits for Low-Income Minorities"

"Strategies for Identifying the Talents of Diverse Students"

"Underachievement Among Gifted Minority Students: Problems and Promises"

"Working with Diverse Learners and School Staff in a Multicultural Society"








 People who are aware of, and ashamed of, their prejudices are well on the road to eliminating them.

~ Gordon Allport (U.S. psychology professor, 1897-1967)




Useful Websites for Teaching For Diversity

Multicultural Pavilion 
Comprehensive resources and dialogues for educators, students, and activists sponsored by the Curry School of Education. It also includes lesson plans and activities for multicultural education.
This site, representing the educational arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is dedictated to providing information that promotes and supports anti-bias activism in every venue of life. There are sections designed especially for teachers, parents, kids and teens.

The International Children's Digital Library
The ICDL is a five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to create a digital library of international children's books. The collection's focus is on identifying materials that help children to understand the world around them and the global society in which we live.Girl 3

Developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, this site brings online humanities resources from some of the world's great museums, libraries, cultural institutions, and universities directly to your classroom.

Inclusive Teaching
Developed by the University of Washington's Center for Instructional Development and Research, this site provides resources, examples, insights from faculty, and stories from students to help teachers accomplish the goal of teaching more inclusively.

The Parent and Community Engagement Page at The Education Trust
The Education Trust is committed to providing parents and community-based agencies with the tools and help they need to make the most of the reform efforts that are underway in most communities. Information is also available in Spanish. 

 If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.  If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

~ Bishop Desmond Tutu (South African activist and religious leader, 1931- )

Stories to Contemplate and Share

Students Master Robotics, Beat Odds 
Hear a story about four latino high school kids from rural Arizona and an underwater robot named Stinky who beat out the nation's brightest students in the 2004 Marine Advanced Technology Education Center Remotely Operated Vehicle Competition. We also hear from their computer science teacher, Allan Cameron.

Beautiful Minds: An innovative math program helps change the face of gifted and talented education
Visit an inner-city fourth grade classroom participating in Project M3, an innovative math program funded by the Jacob K. Javits Act. You will also read about the way in which the innovative project changed teachers' perspectives about finding and challenging gifted students.

Into Africa With the Boys of Baraca
Listen to a review of the recently-released documentary that follows three African-American students attend an academically rigorous school in Kenya in a program designed to give them a path out of the violence and poverty of inner-city Baltimore.

Differences as Assets
Read an article from NAGC's Parenting for High Potential magazine that celebrates success stories of individuals from diverse backgrounds whose gifts and talents were enhanced because of these differences rather than in spite of them.

Have we forgotten your favorite Diversity resource?
Contact NAGC at and include the
words "Hot Topic Idea" in the subject line.