Report: N.C. Schools Are Shortchanging Poor, Black Gifted Students | News

Report: N.C. Schools Are Shortchanging Poor, Black Gifted Students

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This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

In yesterday’s Primer, we talked about a study that found huge gaps between rich and poor students in the South, including in North Carolina. Now another study argues that North Carolina is shortchanging poor, black gifted students [Charlotte Observer via N&O].
  • “The ‘gifted gap’ that shortchanges black and Hispanic students across America is especially intense in North Carolina, a new study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute shows. … The ‘Gifted Gap’ report found that while most high-poverty schools offer programs for gifted students, they tend to be sparsely populated.”
  • “[The report] documented that African-American and Hispanic students are underrepresented in gifted programs in all states and all types of schools, but even more so in schools where most students come from impoverished homes. North Carolina is among 22 states where fewer than 5 percent of black and Hispanic students are in gifted programs, compared with almost 10 percent of all North Carolina students. In North Carolina schools with poverty levels of 75 percent or higher, only 3.1 percent of black and Hispanic students and 5.1 percent of all students were in gifted programs. That was among the nation’s lowest levels.”
  • From the report: “In North Carolina, 90.9 percent of schools have a gifted program. Low-poverty schools are somewhat less likely to have gifted programs than high-poverty schools. Schools in North Carolina are much more likely to have gifted programs than the national average, and high-poverty schools in the state are also much more likely to have gifted programs than the national average.”
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  • However: “Of students in North Carolina who attend schools with gifted programs, 9.6 percent participate in those programs. Students in low-poverty schools are more than three times more likely to participate in gifted programs than students in high-poverty schools.”
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  • Also: “In North Carolina, only 5.1 percent of students at high-poverty schools with gifted programs participate in gifted education, and there are substantial differences in enrollment across racial groups in North Carolina’s high-poverty schools. Asian students constitute 1.9 percent of the overall student population and 4.1 percent of students enrolled in gifted education in these schools. Black students constitute 40.0 percent of the student population and 24.1 percent of students enrolled in gifted education. Hispanic students constitute 23.1 percent of the student population and 18.3 percent of students enrolled in gifted education. Finally, white students constitute 28.4 percent of the student population and 44.0 percent of students enrolled in gifted education.
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  • Charlotte Observer: “No district in North Carolina has more poor, black and Hispanic students than Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where 78 of 177 schools have poverty levels of 75 percent or higher. And their chances of building prosperous adult lives pose an essential challenge in a city that has spent the last several years wrestling with dismal statistics on the slim chances for children born poor in Charlotte to advance to higher income levels. Wake County, North Carolina’s largest district, has lower poverty levels than CMS and fewer schools with extreme concentrations of poverty. But almost 51,000 Wake students qualify for federal lunch subsidies to low-income families.”

WHAT'S NEXT: The report offers three policy recommendations.
  • “Consider universal screening and other ways to streamline identification processes: Schools could improve participation rates by optimizing policies for identifying students and implementing universal screening. A universal screening policy assesses all students to determine which are eligible for gifted services and is one of the best ways to boost participation of underrepresented minority students, as well as less affluent students, English language learners, and female students.”
  • “Identify students for gifted programs using local norms: Districts should consider identifying the highest achievers at each school as opposed to across the district. Although students at different schools will meet different standards for inclusion, this identification process is likely to yield greater socioeconomic and ethnic diversity in the district’s gifted programs.”
  • “Counter bias in identifying and serving minority gifted students: To the extent that bias plays a role in the underrepresentation of black and Hispanic students in these programs, employing a more diverse teacher force and deploying interventions shown to counter unconscious bias and help teachers recognize giftedness among all students could lead to greater representation for underrepresented students.”
  • Also from the report: “While teacher nominations are a good mechanism for identifying students who may benefit from gifted programming but do not meet the testing cutoff, relying primarily on parent and teacher nominations, as happens in many schools, is prone to bias, favoritism, and abuse.”



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