A recent report from Vanderbilt University offers a possible explaination for why black kids are underrepresented in gifted programs.
In Nashville, Tennessee, Una Elementary School has more minority students than white students enrolled in gifted and talented programs. This is different from most Metro Nashville Public Schools, where minority students outnumber whites but don’t have a high rate of inclusion in gifted programs.
“All kids are born with gifts and talents,” said teacher Paula Pendergrass. “The problem is that if we don’t catch that gift and talent early on, it goes stagnant. So the gift and talent is there, but we need to do a better job as educators to catch that gift early on.”
The Vanderbilt University report found that white teachers more able to identify gifted traits in white students than in those from other backgrounds. Further, the report showed that traits of gifted and talented nonwhite students are often different from white students. Its easier for teachers who are nonwhite to recognize those traits.
According to Schunn Turner, district coordinator of gifted services, the district is making an effort to improve through community outreach. “We are getting better at getting diverse students to the table and being more representative of our district,” she said.