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School & District Management

Gifted Black Students Have Less Chance of Being Recommended for Gifted Programs

By Sarah D. Sparks — January 22, 2016 1 min read

Not to sound like a broken record, but here’s yet more evidence that the screening systems for advanced academic programs need a major overhaul.

There’s a slew of research that bright students of color have a harder time getting access to gifted and honors programs. Adding to it is a new study in the American Educational Research Association’s journal AERA Open finds that high-achieving black students are less than half as likely as white, Hispanic, or Asian students to be referred for gifted programs.

The study analyzed teacher referrals for gifted programs based on more than 14,000 students in a large federal longitudinal study. For students with identical high scores on standardized mathematics and reading tests, white, Hispanic, and Asian students were all statistically just as likely to be referred for gifted programs, at about 6 percent. Black students, by contrast, were 50 percent less likely to be referred, at 2.8 percent.

There was one exception: high-achieving black students taught by a black teacher were three times more likely to be referred for gifted programs than those taught by a teacher of another race.

The study comes at the same time as one by the American Enterprise Institute which finds black students are equally likely as white students to attend schools with Advanced Placement classes. AEI study author Nat Malkus noted that those findings suggest continuing racial disparities in AP classes are caused by lower academic achievement for black students. But the AERA study highlights the ways students of color who should be expected to enter and succeed in advanced academic programs often don’t get the chance to do so.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.