Parent and Teacher Perceptions of Gifted African American and White Students: Is There a Difference?
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In American schools, African American students are underrepresented in gifted education programs while White students are overrepresented. School-based gifted identification referrals are primarily initiated by teacher nomination. However, many characteristics or attributes perceived as gifted by the African American cultural group are often not recognized under mainstream definitions of giftedness and by extension teachers who nominate students for gifted education. Teachers often attribute giftedness to very narrow and specific abilities used in mainstream definitions of giftedness such as IQ and academic achievement, and may subsequently overlook African American students who demonstrate non-traditional attributes of giftedness (i.e., creativity, leadership ability, strong social skills). Given evidence that attributions of giftedness may vary by culture, an evaluation of ways in which teachers and parents perceive giftedness is important. The current study aimed to (a) develop and validate a questionnaire to assess parent and teacher perceived attributes of giftedness in an African American and White sample of students; (b) examine parent and teacher perceptions of giftedness as a function of student culture; (c) examine teacher perceptions of which student attributes they are more or less likely to endorse when nominating African American and White students; and (d) examine differences between parent perceptions of gifted attributes and teacher perceptions of nomination for African American and White students. The study was conducted in two phases. In phase I, the researcher-developed Attributions of Giftedness Survey (AGS) was found to be psychometrically valid and reliable. In phase II, significant and non-significant findings emerged. Specifically, (a) parent perceptions of giftedness significantly differed between African American and White students, (b) teacher perceptions of giftedness significantly differed between African American and White students, and (c) parent perceptions of giftedness significantly differed from teacher perceptions depending on the student’s culture. While teacher perceptions of nomination did not differ significantly between the two cultural groups, teacher perceptions of nomination were found to differ from parent perceptions of giftedness depending on the student’s culture. Future directions regarding policy and procedural implications such as a comprehensive definition of giftedness and revisions to the nomination and identification procedure are discussed. Study results also indicated teacher training is warranted to facilitate teacher knowledge of culturally-bound expressions of giftedness that is unique to the African American cultural group to improve nomination rates of gifted African American students and support subsequent greater representation of African American students in gifted education programs.