Broward County, Florida more than doubled the number of low-income students and students of color identified as gifted — without changing eligibility criteria — by screening all second graders rather than relying on referrals from parents and teachers, a recent study found. Those who did well on a nonverbal cognitive test were given IQ tests.
Universal screening raised the percentage of gifted black students by 80 percent, Latinos by 130 percent and disadvantaged students by 180 percent, reports the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
Schools elsewhere are trying to enroll more low-income, Latino and black students in gifted and honors classes, reports Education Week.
In Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb, 3.5 percent of lower-income students (based on eligibility for a free lunch) are in gifted and advanced classes, compared to 11 percent of non-poor students. The district has spent “more than $860,000” to rethink procedures for identifying high-potential students.
Screening all third graders has nearly doubled the number identified as gifted.
The district’s Elitha Donner Elementary School, for example, identified 12 low-income students as gifted this year, up from only three last year, and narrowed the white-black gap in gifted education from 4-to-1 in favor of whites to 2.5-to-1 in the last year alone.
Next year, the district will roll out the rest of the changes to the identification system, with teachers and principals developing new rubrics for identifying exceptional creativity and leadership, both in class and in outside activities, such as community volunteering and church youth groups.
“We’re looking at our students differently,” said Michelle Jenkins, Donner Elementary’s principal. “It’s training your brain that ‘gifted’ is not always your top academic students.”
Screening all students for high IQ makes sense. Redefining “gifted” to mean “good kid” does not.