The misdiagnosis of gifted students is all too common. The behaviors and language of students typically becomes how they are identified. Many times non-English speaking students are misdiagnosed. “A likely explanation for this phenomenon is the widespread lack of teacher training in the area of gifted education, combined with school personnel’s unfamiliarity with behaviors typically expressed in other cultures” (Beljan, 2011, p. 318-319). I think that it is extremely important to help educate others, especially educators, on gifted students.
As individuals who are studying gifted education, I think that it is our responsibility to help educate those who work with gifted students on their characteristics and needs. This can help with misdiagnosis that can occur. On page 321, Beljan noted that placement tests are typically based on one language which might not be the native language of the student. I like the plan that Arizona put into place, as discussed on page 321, to help better identify gifted students, no matter their cultural background. The matrix that they use blends qualitative and quantitative data to better help identify the students who are gifted. So much of chapter 15 seems to point to the lack of training that people have in gifted education. I get very frustrated when I think about how uneducated I was on gifted education when I taught second grade. I wish that I could have served my students better in the general education classroom. Beljan further backs up his argument for better training in gifted education on pages 326-327: “When the educational staff understands how cultural norms manifest as problems, they can better address instruction by identifying learning strengths versus learning challenges.” There is no room for stereotypes and prejudices in gifted education, or in any part of education for that matter. The key is that teachers must remember to look at students’ abilities when considering giftedness.
Another important issue for educators to remember when identifying gifted students is to consider their culture. Students who come from a different culture might not portray the specific behaviors that would be classified as gifted; however, this does not mean that they do not have these behaviors. For example, Beljan explained, “Outward manifestations prevalent in culturally and linguistically diverse students add to the factors, structures, and systems in place in the schools that prevent identification and appropriate services for these students” (p. 321). The values accepted in one culture can be very different in another culture. It is imperative that these differences are taken into account when identifying gifted students. Although it is a large undertaking, it would greatly benefit students if the gifted evaluator took time to understand their culture. Getting to know the students on a deep level and understanding their culture at home would help them to be better understood in the classroom which would also help them to be better understood when it comes to gifted identification. It seems like the most feasible way to do this would be for gifted educators to train general education teachers on what to look for in gifted students. Giftedness is not a trait, but instead it is a behavior. Overall, there should always be a global perspective when considering giftedness.
Beljan, P. (2011). Misdiagnosing students. In J. A. Castellano, & A. D. Frazier (Eds),Special populations in gifted education: Understanding our most able students from diverse backgrounds (pp. 317-332). Waco, TX.: Prufrock Press.