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Identifying Gifted ELLs


The U.S. Department of Education has given a $1.6 million grant to the University of South Florida's college of education to research how to identify English-language learners and students from low socioeconomic levels who are gifted, according to the Tampa Tribune. The grant will fund a program called Recognizing Extraordinary Accomplishments of Children.

Elizabeth Shaunessy, an associate professor for gifted education at the university, plans to research how a nonverbal test, which uses picture patterns to assess intelligence, might increase the participation of ELLs and students from low-income families in gifted programs, the article says.

I feature this grant because it's one of the few efforts I've heard about in a decade of writing about ELLs that recognizes how such students can be evaluated for giftedness.


I’m excited to see what will come out of this study. Having taught in a Sheltered English Transition program in the past, I know that like any group of students, ELLs cover the entire gambit of learners. As I understand it, typical intelligence testing is very language intensive and thus not a good measure for someone learning English. I don’t enough about intelligence testing, but the visual approach makes sense. Of course, I wish we could have results tomorrow, but I’m sure it will be a couple of years before we have a new test.

I work with ELL students (I'm actually and English Learner) and I get frustrated when my kids don't get the service they need to be able to succeed. Right now, the Biology class was divided in half based on the CELDT scores. As a result, I have some excellent students getting bored taking a lower level of Biology when they could be challenged more. These students were actually scoring A in the former Biology class even though they are limited English speakers. In this case, their strong schooling background is making the difference.
On the other hand, ELL students rarely get tested for learning disabilities because the testing system is not reliable in a second language.
I'm so happy for knowing that there is an option to find more about ELL capabilities beyond second language proficiency.

It was about time. I can't forget the question I was asked when I suggested that some of my bilingual - ELL students might be gifted. At the time, the gifted education program coordinator asked: "Are there any ELL that can possibly be gifted???" I look forward to the results.

Let's not forget: ELL satudents know what they know in their native language PLUS what they learn in English!!! Pretty amazing.

These kids do get the shaft but I'm afraid that the study will focus only on Spanish speakers.

I am very excited to know that there is grant funding to service gifted ELL's. So often, I observe native English speakers assuming the ELL's are not intelligent due to their language barrier. I have had experiences with very bright students who were simply born in a non-English speaking country. I actually believe these students are far more intelligent than the average American because they have learned how to function in a new culture and in a new language.

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