The Relationship Between Teacher Referral and the Representation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Students in Gifted Education

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Virginia Tech


This study was designed to examine the relationship between teacher referral and the underrepresentation of CLD students in gifted education and to identify the factors that influenced teachers' decisions to refer CLD students to gifted services. Studies on the issue of disproportionality in gifted education in the United States have indicated teacher referrals can be a pivotal instrument in the identification of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) gifted students. However, previous research has shown teacher referrals of CLD students to gifted services may be influenced by the teacher's own explicit or implicit stereotypes or beliefs of their students' cultural or linguistic backgrounds. District level data from the 2021 school year were examined through a Pearson's correlation coefficient test and a survey was administered to teachers in three different grade levels to determine whether factors such as assessment scores, parent referral, student behavior, and teachers' prior experience with CLD predicted their decision to refer CLD students for gifted services. The survey included two open-ended questions that provided qualitative data on the traits that teachers most associated with giftedness in CLD students, as well as information on school division resources that teachers find to be most effective in supporting their referral of CLD students. The findings of this study revealed there was a relationship between teacher referral and the underrepresentation of CLD students in gifted education. No significant relationship was found between the factors listed in the survey and the teachers' decision to refer CLD students to gifted services. However, the frequency of teachers' responses to the Likert-scale questions in the survey indicated the teachers' strong consideration of assessment scores and prior experience with CLD students when recommending CLD students for gifted education. The implications of the study emphasized the need for structures that support the analysis of data on the role teachers play in the underrepresentation of CLD students in gifted education, the assessments used to identify gifted students, and the need for intentional professional development that equips teachers with the skills to recognized exceptionality in CLD students.



giftedness, gifted education, culturally and linguistically diverse students, underrepresentation, teacher referral