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Study: White students favored over blacks in gifted programs

Among elementary school students with high standardized test scores, black students are about half as likely as their white peers to be assigned to gifted programs in math and reading, according to a just-released study by Vanderbilt University.

When black students are taught by a black classroom teacher, however, the racial gap in gifted assignment largely disappears, according to the study published today in AERA Open, a journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Using data on more than 10,000 elementary school students from the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten cohort, the study found black students are 66 percent less likely and Hispanic students are 47 percent less likely than white students to be assigned to gifted programs, according to a released statement from Vanderbilt.

The results of the Vanderbilt study echo similar recent findings by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. White students in Georgia are roughly three times more likely than their black counterparts to be enrolled in gifted programs — and roughly two-and-a-half times more likely to be in those classrooms than minority students, including Hispanics and Asians, according to an analysis of 2012-13 school year education data by the AJC.

The Vanderbilt study found white-Hispanic assignment gap was significantly decreased when researchers analyzed differences in prior achievement on math and reading scores.

Researchers suggested implementing universal screening of students and training to help teachers recognize giftedness in diverse populations to improve the rate at which qualified students are recognized for gifted placement.