children of color gifted and talented

Hey Wait a Minute…Why Isn’t My Daughter in Gifted and Talented Classes?

Posted on Posted in Blog, Parenting's Not Easy, School Me on Research, School Rules and Processes

Hey Wait a Minute...Why Isn’t My Daughter in Gifted and Talented Classes?

Growing up we used to play kickball in the middle of the street.  Like any game there were rules.  Certain mailboxes were either a base or a line to indicate where ‘out; would be.  Anyone cousin or friend who came to visit knew that although they may have played kickball where they lived, if you played on our street, our rules applied. Or forget about playing with us.
When I am parenting into unknown territory of schooling I feel like I am playing kickball in a neighborhood whose rules are unfamiliar.  I figured I knew how to play the rules of school.  Homework done and checked every night, all school supplies accounted for and a book read at bedtime.  What else did I need to do?  After all I was playing by the rules that got me through school.  But, like life, the rules have changed and I am not currently in a position to change them.  School is not my ‘neighborhood.’   I finally figured this out when my oldest got A’s and B’s on her report cards but wasn’t invited to join the gifted and talented classes.  Little did I know that it was unlikely that she would be, as a Black child is only half as likely as a White child to be placed in a gifted and talented class.
Black, Beautiful and Brilliant Females, a recent compilation of research about  Black females in gifted and talented classes, revealed  alarming truths from the 2009 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).  The report highlighted:
Gifted and talented classes are a big deal because they often times lead to an accelerated track (meaning students take accelerated or honors courses every school year).  Accelerated classes prepare students better for college courses as they make students use their critical thinking skills.
The rules for entry into gifted and talented classes vary from state to state.  But most schools use such criteria as:
  • Test scores
  • Grades
  • Teacher recommendations
All gifted and talented criteria do not have the same weight, and while a student may have the test scores and grades if a teacher does not feel as if a student can handle the accelerated class work – you got it - no recommendation.  These criteria cause major problems as standardized tests are deemed as bias and teacher recommendations, while often well intentioned, can be subjective and thus hold bias as well.
 Researchers suggest that schools need to broaden their definition of gifted and talented to include strengths, such as resiliency associated with African American females. Until schools find various ways to assess giftedness African American female students, in particular, will continue to be overlooked in gifted and talented classes.
I have two daughters.  I believe that they are smart and have every right to be in gifted and talented classes.  And have I no intention on waiting for schools to change the rules for gifted and talented criteria.  Our game plan? 
  • To prepare our children to do well on standardized tests, not just their report card.
  • Be vocal when we know they have the test scores but have not received a recommendation.
Until the rules change, we will have to play by the ones that are clearly not ours.


Have you ever been misled by good report cards?

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