Special Education

Gifted Black Pupils Found Pressured to Underperform

By Lesli A. Maxwell — March 17, 2008 | Corrected: February 22, 2019 1 min read

Corrected: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect name for the research journal Urban Education.

Gifted black students who underperform in school may do so because of peer pressure to “act black,” according to new research published this month in the journal Urban Education.

In “Another Look at the Achievement Gap: Learning From the Experiences of Gifted Black Students,” authors Donna Y. Ford, Tarek C. Grantham, and Gilman W. Whiting found that peer pressure to “act black” was significant among a group of gifted African-American students in two Ohio districts.

The study analyzed survey results from 166 students—some in a low-performing urban district; others in a suburban, higher-performing district—who were in grades 6-12. The survey asked them questions about their behavior and attitudes toward academic achievement, as well as their perceptions of social and peer pressures.

Blog: On Special Education

Education Week‘s Christina A. Samuels tracks news and trends of interest to the special education community, including administrators, teachers, and parents.

To that end, the researchers asked students to describe what the phrases “acting white” and “acting black” meant.

Most of them described “acting white” as speaking standard English, doing well in school, taking advanced courses, being stuck up, and not acting your race. In describing what it meant to “act black,” they used phrases such as being laid-back, being dumb or uneducated, and pretending not to be smart.

“I was really surprised at how many times the students equated ‘acting black’ with something negative,” said Ms. Ford, a professor of special education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. “It’s tragic.”

Mr. Whiting said there are troubling ramifications for the students who associated “acting black” with negative behaviors.

“These are young, black people talking about themselves,” said Mr. Whiting, a professor of African-American and diaspora studies at Vanderbilt. “What do you have to deal with when you have young students who feel this way about themselves?”

The co-authors conclude their study with recommendations to address underachievement, including counseling on how to handle peer pressure, mentorships with successful African-American adults, and multicultural curricula.

A version of this article appeared in the March 19, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Measuring & Supporting Student Well-Being: A Researcher and District Leader Roundtable
Students’ social-emotional well-being matters. The positive and negative emotions students feel are essential characteristics of their psychology, indicators of their well-being, and mediators of their success in school and life. Supportive relationships with peers, school
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Making Digital Literacy a Priority: An Administrator’s Perspective
Join us as we delve into the efforts of our panelists and their initiatives to make digital skills a “must have” for their district. We’ll discuss with district leadership how they have kept digital literacy
Content provided by Learning.com
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Special Education Whitepaper
A Comprehensive Guide to the IEP Process
Download this guide to learn strategies for bringing together all stakeholders to plan an IEP that addresses the whole child; using relia...
Content provided by n2y
Special Education What Biden's Pick for Ed. Secretary Discussed With Disability Rights Advocates
Advocates for students with disabilities want Biden to address discipline and the effects of COVID-19 on special education.
2 min read
Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Education, speaks after being introduced at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, as Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, look on.
Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Education, speaks after being introduced at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Dec. 23, 2020, as Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, left, look on.
Carolyn Kaster/AP
Special Education Schools Struggled to Serve Students With Disabilities, English-Learners During Shutdowns
The needs of students with IEPs and English-language learners were not often met after the pandemic struck, says a federal report.
3 min read
Young boy wearing a mask shown sheltering at home looking out a window with a stuffed animal.
Getty
Special Education How Will Schools Pay for Compensatory Services for Special Ed. Students?
States’ efforts so far suggest there won’t be enough money to go around for all the learning losses of students with disabilities from COVID-19 school shutdowns.
8 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
iStock/Getty