Panel Paper: Which Cognitive and Noncognitive Measures Can Help Identify Disadvantaged Talent?

Saturday, November 10, 2018
8212 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jonathan Wai, University of Arkansas and Joni Lakin, Auburn University

Susan Dynarski argued that a cost effective leverage point for narrowing income gaps in college would be to have all students take the ACT and SAT, or to “universally screen” students, as this promotes postsecondary attainment. We connect this idea with the gifted education literature suggesting that universal screening would be an effective leverage point for gifted identification and educational development much earlier in the educational pipeline. Given that the ACT and SAT primarily draw upon verbal and mathematical skills, these measures are apt to miss students with other strengths. We draw from Project Talent, a stratified random sample of the U.S. population, which included a variety of cognitive measures, such as abstract reasoning, spatial reasoning, and creativity, as well as the noncognitive measures of leadership and artistic skills, to determine the measures most likely to best identify low income, underrepresented minority, and rural talent. We find that measures of visualization in two dimensions as well as non-cognitive indicators of leadership and artistic skills may be particularly useful to identify disadvantaged talent and could be used as universal screeners to improve representation of disadvantaged talent throughout the educational pipeline.