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Special Education

Bright Black Students and the Achievement Gap

By Christina A. Samuels — April 17, 2008 1 min read

My colleague Debra Viadero’s article about the wide “achievement gap” between the smartest black and white students is a must-read, and free to non-subscribers.

New research into what is commonly called the black-white “achievement gap” suggests that the students who lose the most ground academically in U.S. public schools may be the brightest African-American children. As black students move through elementary and middle school, these studies show, the test-score gaps that separate them from their better-performing white counterparts grow fastest among the most able students and the most slowly for those who start out with below-average academic skills.

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association last month. Gifted education is part of my beat at Education Week, so the topic will also show up in my blog. But I have to admit that the subject does have personal resonance, because I was tracked into gifted classes when I was in school. Unlike many other black students, however, I attended a school that was predominantly white. Did I have a chance to experience more “cognitively stimulating opportunities,” to use the words of a scientist in the article, because of that?

An interesting question on a thorny topic, and the reader comments add some more food for thought.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.