Recognizing and Serving Underserved Gifted and Talented Children in Early Childhood

If we want to find smart children, the only way to do that equitably is to measure how smart they are without using words – not with a verbal or quantitative test. These verbal ability test are basically achievement tests that do not gauge the gifted ability of a student accurately. At times the children don’t come from a very enriching background which means they are culturally different with limited English skills. A verbal test will underestimate their ability. It’s better to completely do away with verbal quantitative test as a way of identifying our gifted children because we do not want to measure verbal ability, we want to measure thinking.


Using a non-verbal test to measure general ability is the best way to arrive at results. The NNAT (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test) is a way to measure general ability using non-verbal methods. As an author of several non-verbal tests, Dr. Naglieri states – “I do not rely on my conviction but on my research study”. It is always good to ask where is the research to support whatever argument someone is presenting to you. About 727,000 students in K12 are still not identified, so ideally we are just identifying 50-60% students in the general population and the rest still need to identified, which is a staggering number. This is more of a social justice issue which can be remedied by identifying smart children by using non-verbal, general ability tests.


It’s better not to jump to conclusions and say that the child does not fit into the curriculum. Modify it according to meet the needs of all gifted students and this helps significantly in bridging the gap between whites students and those of colour. Talk to them and give them assurance that they can be what they want. That will change their life. A popular social justice quote by Martin Luther King Jr. helps us look at gifted identification as more of a social justice issue.


“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in.”


The experts:

Ellen Honeck, Dean of Gifted and Talented Academy at Laurel Springs School; Gifted and Talented Teacher at Cherry Creek School District; and Curriculum Coordinator at The Knox School of Santa Barbara, Laurel Springs School; Cherry Creek School District; The Knox School of Santa Barbara, Centennial, Colorado


Jack A. Naglieri, Research Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
The content of this article was derived from a lecture at the NAGC 2015 convention