Washington-area schools confront the ‘gifted gap’

Nov 8, 2011 by

The budding scholars in Alexandria’s gifted ­classes are bright and curious enough to make any teacher beam, but these days they’re also an emblem of what the school system calls one of its greatest failures: a lack of diversity among the academic elite.

Most of the city’s students are black or Hispanic. Most in gifted programs are white.

This imbalance in classes tailored to gifted and talented students is echoed across the region and the nation, a source of embarrassment to many educators.

In theory, a racial enrollment gap in gifted programs should be easier for schools to close than a racial achievement gap. But in practice, experts say, there are many obstacles. Among them, they say, are testing and outreach methods that fail to ensure children from all backgrounds get an equal shot.

In Alexandria, where a bitter struggle to desegregate public schools ended a half-century ago, administrators have vowed over the next year to tackle the problem.

“It’s simply unacceptable,” said Gregory Hutchings, director of pre-K-12 initiatives for city schools. “These numbers tell us that we’re not serving all kids.”

At Cora Kelly Elementary School, Rosalyne Cameron teaches seven gifted fourth-graders, all of them engaged in the kind of high-level inquiry considered a hallmark of gifted education. Last month, Cameron launched a discussion about modern art by asking the class, “What is art?”

via – The Washington Post.

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