“Identifying underachieving gifted students, and explaining the reasons for this underachievement continues to stir controversy among practitioners, researchers and clinicians. (Reis S., McCoach B. 2000 The Underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go?) “Despite this interest, the underachievement of gifted students remains an enigma.” (Reis, S. and McCoach B. 2000 The Under achievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go?)
Strategies must be put in place to understand why these gifted students are becoming underachievers.
“The most successful programs to reverse underachievement behaviors will provide a menu of intervention options for different types of underachieving gifted students. (Reis, S. and McCoach, B 2000 The Underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go?)
The first strategy to create a successful reversal program is training of educators. “Students who have reversed their underachievement behaviors have noted that having a teacher who supported and believed in them overcome their underachievement.” (Reis, S. and McCoach, B. 2000 The Underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go?)
The most rewarding statement that I received from my past students were “Thank you.” I began understanding my student’s environmental needs. I put aside my middle class educational beliefs and put myself into the nature of my students. Schools must spend time conducting professional development training for educators to provide cultural and emotional support.
Students should be offered counseling group sessions and lessons. At my previous school, which was a Title I school, we had an excellent counselor who instilled self-esteem and pride in the students that were considered underachievers. The students would line up at 7:15 a.m. to discuss their social and academic concerns and the counselor became their voice, by taking the time to understand and offer constructive criticism and feedback.
At my current school the tutoring program was started by a paraprofessional. The tutoring program focuses on academics and interests of the students by visiting homes and understanding the multi-cultural needs of those students. Her program teaches test-taking and self-esteem skills to students that support and develop motivation toward their studies. “To prevent or reverse underachievement, schools will need to provide supportive strategies, intrinsic strategies, and remedial strategies, the strategies must include accommodation to students’ learning styles, focusing on students’ interests, and affirming students as individuals with special needs and concerns.” Ford, D. and Thomas A. Underachievement Among Gifted Minority Students Problems and Promises.)
My school has also developed a mentoring program strategy that provides academic and peer support for underachieving students. Terrell from our case study, Starr Search, benefits from fellow mentors that understand his environment and home life. (“Research has found that high-achieving peers had a positive influence on gifted students who began to underachieve in high school. Positive peer interaction contributed to some students’ reversal of underachievement.” Reis S., and McCoach B. The underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go? 2000)
In conclusion, a variety and number of strategies must be redesigned to ensure reversal achievement in underachieving students. (“Schools must implement academic counseling, teach time management and organization and promote positive parent-child relations characterized by nurturance, support, respect, trust and open communication” Ford D. and Thomas A. Underachievement Among Gifted Minority Students: Problems and Promises 1997).
Ford D., and Thomas A. Underachievement Among Gifted Minority Students Problems and Promises
ERIC EC Digest #E544 June 1997
Reis S., and McCoach D The underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go? Gifted Child Quarterly National Association for Gifted Children Vol 44, No. 3 pp 152-170 2000