Understanding Underrerepresentation in Gifted Education

The underrepresentation of students from minority and low-income backgrounds in gifted education programs continues to be one of the most critical, yet seldom talked about, issues confronting education.

For African-American, Hispanic and low-income students the issue is about access and outcomes. Too few of these student groups have access to gifted education programs or advanced courses at the elementary or secondary level (i.e. AP, IB). In fact, Caucasian and Asian students make-up nearly three-fourths of students enrolled in gifted and talented programs, despite the fact that African-American and Hispanic students are 44% of the student population[1]

CEC gifted infographic
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It should come as no surprise that few, if any, students from minority or low-income backgrounds score at the top levels of state assessments or the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card[2].  Furthermore, without access to a challenging education, high-ability students from low income backgrounds are twice as likely to drop out of school and less likely to attend college[3]

Addressing this issue requires reforms to our educational system which include an emphasis on high ability learners, greater professional development and preparation and increased research and dissemination.

Read CEC's statement on McFadden v. Board of Education for Illinois School District U-46, a gifted education segregation court case.

Read the court case.  

What you Need to Know about underrepresentation.

Limited Access...

  • Hispanic and African American students are disproportionately underrepresented in gifted and talented educational opportunities.[4]
  • 10 States provide $0 to fund gifted education; and another 4 states spent less than $1 million[7].
  • There has been no federal investment to support gifted education since 2011 when the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act was de-funded.

...Leads to Lower Achievement, Opportunities

  • Every state has an “excellence gap” – the achievement gap at the top levels of academic performance on state and NAEP assessments -- between African American, Hispanic, or students from low-income backgrounds and their Caucasian and more advantaged peers that will take decades to close.[8]
  • High-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds, when compared to their more advantaged peers, are:
    • twice as likely to drop out of school;
    • more likely to lose ground as they move forward in their schooling; and
    • less likely to attend or graduate from college[10].
  • 44% of children from low socioeconomic backgrounds who are considered high achieving when they enter school are no longer high achieving by 5th grade[11].[12]

[1] U.S. Department of Education http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/crdc-2012-data-summary.pdf

[2] https://www.iub.edu/~ceep/Gap/

[3] [1] Wyner, J., Bridgeland, J.M., & Diulio, J. J. (2008). The achievement trap: How America is failing millions of high-achieving students from lower income families. Lansdowne, VA: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

[4] http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/crdc-2012-data-summary.pdf

[5] http://ocrdata.ed.gov/downloads/projections/2006/2006-nation-projection.xls

[6] Farkas, S., & Duffett, A. (2008).  High-achieving students in the era of NCLB:  Results from a national teacher survey.  Washington, DC:  Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

 

[7] http://www.nagc.org/uploadedFiles/Information_and_Resources/2010-11_state_of_states/State%20of%20the%20Nation%20%20(final).pdf

[8] https://www.iub.edu/~ceep/Gap/

[9] https://www.iub.edu/~ceep/Gap/excellence2/CA.pdf

[10] Wyner, J., Bridgeland, J.M., & Diulio, J. J. (2008). The achievement trap: How America is failing millions of high-achieving students from lower income families. Lansdowne, VA: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

[11]

[12] Wyner, J., Bridgeland, J.M., & Diulio, J. J. (2008). The achievement trap: How America is failing millions of high-achieving students from lower income families. Lansdowne, VA: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.