It turns out black students were about half as likely as white students to be placed in gifted programs, according to a national study released last month by researchers at Vanderbilt University. This might be due to the process of identifying which students are gifted, whether it’s through testing, a subjective panel, or teacher referrals, which are where the discrepancy really sticks out.
Racism, implicit or explicit, is surely to blame, not any potentially objective differences in intellectual ability.
The study also found that black teachers were three times more likely to recommend black students for gifted services than nonblack teachers.
Are these black teachers recommending black students at a higher rate than the percentage of blacks in their respective schools? Wouldn’t that be reverse discrimination?
To the question of how we define a “gifted” student:
The US Department of Education says gifted students show strong intellect, creativity, artistic capability, leadership skills, or strength in specific academic fields. Those guidelines say kids like this need “services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.”
Even with a federal definition, though, most states and local districts have their own definitions of giftedness and a different process for assessing it. Some places focus primarily on IQ and other standardized tests, while others include interview-style assessments.
The important thing to remember in all of this:
A) objective IQ tests are bad, and
B) subjective assessments leaning towards self-esteem and ’empowerment’ are good.