Talent identification and development in high-ability, Hispanic bilingual students in an urban elementary school

Date of Completion

January 1997


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




The Hispanic population is one of the largest culturally and linguistically diverse groups in the United States and is classified as a "minority group." Officially, the U.S. government utilizes "Hispanic" as the ethnic designator of people of Latin American and Spanish descent living in the United States. It is necessary to recognize, however, that this term comprises persons of different ethnicities, cultures, languages, and countries of origin. According to the 1990 census, approximately 4.2 million U.S. youngsters aged 5 to 17 who speak a non-English language at home speak Spanish (Waggoner, 1995). A major concern for the public school system of the U.S. has been to serve students with different linguistic backgrounds in various types of bilingual/ESL (English Second Language) programs.^ In the last few decades, another concern to researchers and educators has been the significant under-representation of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students in gifted and talented programs. The primary reason cited in most recent studies conducted on this topic is the absence of adequate methods of assessment and programming for gifted minority students (Baldwin, 1987; Bernal, 1989; Castellano, 1995; Cohen, 1988; Frasier, Garcia & Passow, 1995; Frasier & Passow 1994; Kitano & Espinosa, 1995; Masten, 1985; Mills & Tissot, 1995; Rhodes, 1992; Smith, LeRose & Clasen, 1991). The absence of knowledge or understanding about the cultural, linguistic and cognitive skills of CLD students results in limited educational policies, school programs, or other educational services that address the unique needs of this population.^ This qualitative study examined personal (socio-emotional, linguistic, and cognitive aspects) and cultural characteristics of high ability, Hispanic, bilingual students in an urban elementary school, their educational experiences, and their home, school, and community environments. Case study research methods including ethnographic interviews, participant observation, and document review were employed to gather and analyze data. The analysis of data generated themes and patterns which enabled the researcher to compare and contrast the cases. An in-depth description of each high ability, Hispanic, bilingual student provided a better understanding of his/her affective needs, interests, and abilities, as well as the school and home factors which supported academic achievement, talent development, and bilingualism in these students. ^