A comparison of the higher level thinking skills of black/white students and the influence of selected demographic variables on their placement in programs for the gifted

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Mitchell, Gail Gwendolyn Jackson
Merbler, John B.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Special Education
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The purpose of the study was to investigate factors influencing the selection of minority and majority school-aged children for gifted and talented programs. Factors explored included abstract thinking ability, achievement test scores, and parental social status (i.e., education, income, occupation) as academic and nonacademic variables that potentially influence the selection and/or placement process. Provided is performance data on 22 black and 23 white gifted children and 21 black and 24 white high achieving children (N=90) relative to their similar as well as unique traits on measures of abstract thinking ability, IQ, and achievement tests.FindingsH1. There are significant differences in abstract thinking ability among placement groups that vary with race.H2. It was found that students from higher social status backgrounds tended to be placed in programs for the gifted more often than were students from lower social status backgrounds.H3. Teachers tended to select (from a hypothetical group) children from higher income families rather than children from lower income families for placement in the gifted program. This finding was also true for children whose profiles indicated parent occupation (e.g., teacher, judge).Conclusions1. The selection of gifted students is influenced by race and social status of the parents.2. Parent education, occupation, and income are social class variables that influence children both in and out of school.3. Abstract thinking ability is not an academic variable that influences the selection of children for gifted program placement in the school corporation selected for this study.4. Numerous other variables (e.g., hi/lo socioeconomic background, values and beliefs, directed/mediated learning experiences, language and historical background) influence a child's capacity to learn and should be always considered.5. Testing instruments are not available in the school system used in this study to accurately assess the skills of minority children.