The Georgia Story: One State’s Approach to the Underrepresentation Issue

Working with the University of Georgia’s Dr. Mary Frasier on one of the landmark studies conducted by the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT), Georgia educators found ways to address what has been a perplexing and persistent problem, i.e., identifying gifted children from underrepresented groups – economically disadvantaged, certain ethnic minorities, limited English proficient, and culturally different. In the early 1990’s Dr. Frasier’s Research-based Assessment Project and Staff Development Model were piloted in six Georgia school systems. The ground swell of support for changes in Georgia’s State Board of Education (SBOE) Rule governing gifted program eligibility that resulted from those ventures was nothing short of remarkable! Educators who worked on this research project grew in two ways: in their passion to do what was right for gifted students (ALL gifted students) and in their confidence that they could indeed use alternative, flexible identification procedures in ways that were valid and reliable and that would improve gifted programs by making them more inclusive and varied. Gifted education advocates across the state relied on research findings and leadership of the NRCG/T while they introduced and shepherded through the legislature a bill that required changes in eligibility criteria. A change in the statute precipitated SBOE hearings, a statewide task force, and ultimately a new eligibility rule. As a result of that multiple-criteria eligibility rule, from January 1997 to October 2005, the number of African-Americans participating in Georgia’s programs for gifted students has increased by over 200%; the number of Hispanic gifted students has increased by 570%. The impact of more inclusive identification and programming practices and a statewide focus on more demanding coursework for all students is now being felt at the high school level, with many more students from underrepresented groups reaching the highest level of rigorous coursework: From 2002-2006 alone, there was a 71% increase in the number of African-Americans students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Hispanic participation in AP courses increased 180% in the same time period.

Georgia Gifted Population in 2006 pdf