Gifted education programs don’t benefit Black students like they do white students | #schoolshooting

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The big idea

Participating in a gifted and talented program improved high-ability students’ reading and math achievement, on average, nationwide, I found in a new study. However, in reading, these achievement gains were not universal. Black students benefited less from participating in gifted education programs than white students, my research found. And affluent students gained more from gifted education programs than did students from families with lower incomes.

These findings emerged from an April 2021 peer-reviewed study that I conducted with education professor Jason Grissom. We analyzed data for 1,340 students who participated in gifted education programs in elementary school. Specifically, we examined how much gifted education programs improved achievement and other outcomes for elementary school students, such as attendance and engagement with school, as measured by student reports of working hard, participating and paying attention in class.

On average, students receiving gifted services saw slight improvements in test scores. The average student who had ever received gifted services saw reading achievement scores increase from the 78th to 80th percentile, irrespective of race or income. The increase was about one-third as large in math as it was in reading.

Low-income students participating in gifted programs did not have net achievement gains in reading, nor did Black students. No evidence was found of a relationship between gifted education program participation with student absences or student engagement.

Why it matters

Some scholars of gifted education have criticized gifted programs as being elitist. These criticisms are based on the fact that students from lower-income families are not admitted to gifted programs at the same rate as their peers from higher-income families.

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