Title

The sociocultural context of Park City's exemplary talented and gifted program and the process by which it identifies kindergarten English language learners

Date of Completion

January 2000

Keywords

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Early Childhood|Education, Special|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Schools in the 21st century will face many new and unresolved challenges. The recruitment of gifted Hispanic English language learners (ELLs) for talented and gifted (TAG) programs is but one of the many unsettled issues which plague school districts nationwide. The pervasive underrepresentation of this group in TAG education is particularly unacceptable since Hispanics (1) represent the largest and fastest growing minority group; (2) continue to suffer a devastatingly high dropout rate of 30% as compared to whites 8% and blacks 13%; (3) are more likely to come from economically disadvantaged (ED) families; and, (4) belong to one of the least likely minority groups to receive TAG education (Hispanic Dropout Project, 1996). As, noted in the Jacob K. Javits Act, “Students with talent are found in all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor” (p. 1) and therefore can certainly be found among Hispanic ELLs (P.L. 100–297). ^ The purpose of this research was to conduct a detailed study of the process used by an exemplary TAG Program to identify, nominate, and accept Hispanic kindergarten ELLs for TAG Education. A social constructivist perspective of the identification process used by a school district such as the Park City School System served to provide an in depth description of the sociocultural context of a TAG Program which (1) is strongly committed to identifying and serving students as early as the kindergarten level; (2) is based on philosophies and policies of inclusion with respect to Hispanic ELLs; and, (3) refrains from relying heavily on standardized test scores to identify students. ^ Ethnographic techniques were used with a total of 16 participants from both Bilingual and TAG Programs. Data collected from various sources revealed the critical components of an exemplary TAG Program to include: consistent financial support from A Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools; Ownership of the Program; a curriculum which fosters high order critical thinking skills; capable, dedicated, and knowledgeable staff members representative of the community they serve; and the use of a labor intensive identification system which employs a variety of criteria to identify students. ^