Gifted and talented education faces ongoing criticism for a lack of racial and socioeconomic diversity in classrooms, despite the steady efforts from those within the field to understand and address the issue. Although researchers and education professionals have parsed out various causes of striking homogeneity in gifted programs--ranging from test bias to low administrative expectations to deeply embedded social prejudices--creating a single, prescriptive solution has not been easy.
A couple of New York Times articles published earlier this year (one focusing on race and ethnicity in New York City's gifted classrooms, the other on socioeconomic inequality affecting high school students applying to selective universities) shed light on some of the more troublesome roadblocks faced in bringing greater diversity to gifted and talented programs.
Last year, Washington, DC public schools relaunched gifted and talented programs--this time with an open-door policy. Whereas many gifted and talented programs require a test to get accepted, the DC programs accept students who test well and students who exhibit more abstract talents that aren't as easy to quantitatively measure. The programs are located in several campuses across the city, so students from a variety of socioeconomic levels, ethnic backgrounds, and racial identities can participate.
Our upcoming book, Young, Triumphant, and Black: Overcoming the Tyranny of Segregated Minds in Desegregated Schools, will explore some of these themes and offer ideas for creating diverse, culturally responsive classrooms for gifted students.