Black achievers are about half as likely to be placed on the “gifted” track as whites with similar test scores, according to a new Vanderbilt study.
The teacher’s race makes a difference, reports NPR. Black teachers identify 6.2 percent of black students as gifted in reading, while non-black teachers saw only 2.1 percent of black students as gifted, researchers found.
Because of racial gaps in test scores, many districts rely more on teacher referrals to identify gifted students, researcher Jason Grissom told NPR. “That opens a big potential door as a driver for disparity.”
It’s not clear why black teachers find more gifted black students, writes Hechinger’s Jill Barshay.
Perhaps black teachers are more likely to recognize brilliance in a black student and suggest that the student be screened for giftedness.
Parents also play a big role in lobbying for their children to enter these programs. Another possibility is that black parents feel more comfortable advocating for their child with a black teacher, demanding that their child be screened for giftedness.
And finally it’s possible that black children perform better for a black teacher, and are more likely to demonstrate how brainy they are in these classrooms.
There’s no white-Latino “giftedness gap,” the study found. White and Latino students with the same scores were equally likely to get placed in a gifted program.
Testing every child for giftedness could help close the gap in access to accelerated programs, suggests Grissom.