MERC releases “Giftedness” literature review and report

Report examines racial and economic disparities in gifted programs

Headshot of David Naff, assistant director of MERC.
David Naff, Ph.D.

The (MERC), a center affiliated with the School of Education, has released the first of its equitable access report series titled “Unpacking ‘Giftedness’: Research and Strategies for Promoting Racial and Socioeconomic Equity.”

The report provides key takeaways from research literature on gifted and talented programs and is organized around five questions:

  1. What does it mean to be "gifted?"
  2. Who receives gifted services?
  3. Why does this matter?
  4. What factors contribute to disparities in gifted services?
  5. What strategies help to address disparities in gifted education?

According to the article abstract, the meaning of “giftedness” continues to be contested in academia, in the classroom, and around kitchen tables. Since “gifted” means different things in different communities, gifted programs end up looking different around the country. There is one constant, according to the report: a serious racial and economic disparity between who is considered gifted and who is not.

“Many thanks to our writing team for their hard work on this literature review,” said David Naff, Ph.D., assistant director of MERC and lead author on the report. “I’m looking forward to our continued work together on this series, including future literature reviews and reports like this one.”

In addition to Naff, authors include Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership; Morgan Saxby, fifth grade teacher with Chesterfield County Public Schools; Kathryn Haines, Midlothian District representative on the Chesterfield County School Board; Michael Schad, instructional designer with the VCU Academic Learning Transformation Lab and SOE alumnus; and SOE doctoral students Amy Jefferson and Zoey Lu.

Haines has shared the report with her fellow school board members to inform their discussions about the future of gifted programs in Chesterfield County Public Schools.

The literature review and report are available on the VCU Scholars Compass: https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/merc_pubs/113/.