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Practical Solutions for Underserved Gifted Students: Effective Curriculum for Underserved Populations

By Tamra Stambaugh and Kimberley L. Chandler

This is a publication of Prufrock Press and is part of the CEC-TAG Educational Resource Series.  In this article, co-author Kimberley Chandler gives a brief overview.

 Note:  Culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners are defined as any learners who may be underserved in a gifted program. Although the term CLD learners may have different meanings in different contexts, it is applied in this book as an all-encompassing term that includes any student whose culture and/or language is different from that of the majority culture in his or her school. Culture describes the values and practices of a given society or group, the culture of poverty, or the culture of an ethnic group in the United States. CLD learners comprise a large group of students who, although very different, also share some common characteristics. However, they differ in these characteristics just as much as they are alike. Additionally, CLD populations may demonstrate these characteristics in different ways from the dominant culture, sometimes in such a way that these characteristics may be perceived as negative. Some common characteristics include: high verbal ability in the native language, strong storytelling ability in the native language, strong critical thinking skills in the primary language, long attention span and ability to concentrate intensely, humor displayed through a unique use of language, and richness of imagery in ideas (New Mexico State Department of Education, 1994).  (Excerpt used with permission from Prufrock Press, Inc.)

 The purpose of this book is to describe the curriculum interventions found to be effective with gifted students typically underrepresented in gifted programs (including children of poverty and those who are from culturally and linguistically diverse populations) in order to delineate common features. Emanating from research conducted through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program in particular,

data exist that provide evidence of effective curriculum interventions for working with CLD students. In an earlier publication, Stambaugh (2009) reviewed this research and other curriculum studies and found that seven studies met specific criteria related to curriculum efficacy for CLD learners:  Mentoring Mathematical Minds (M3); Project Athena Language Arts Study; The Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program; Project Clarion Science Scale-Up Study; Schoolwide Enrichment Model-Reading (SEM-R); Project Breakthrough; and Project U-STARS Plus. 

 When Stambaugh described and compared these studies, she determined that there were eight common curriculum features that can be implemented by teachers in general or gifted education classrooms:

 Use graphic organizers to scaffold the teaching of thinking skills. 

  • Focus on developing potential rather than remediating weaknesses. 
  • Model the oral and written communication of a discipline. 
  • Participate in professional development specifically related to the needs of CLD learners.
  • Include real-world problem solving and student choice in order to engage students.
  • Have students participate in goal-setting and self-monitoring relative to their work. 
  • Use curriculum-based performance assessments to measure student growth.
  • Use curriculum that has been proven to be efficacious with these learners.  Take advantage of training opportunities to ensure fidelity of implementation. 

 Based on the research, we included a model that incorporates these features of curriculum design and delivery for promoting the achievement of students from underserved gifted populations. We then provided a list of evidence-based recommendations for use by various stakeholders to optimize educational opportunities and talent development for CLD learners.