Fordham’s recent report, Is There a Gifted Gap?, examines income- and race-based differences in gifted programming in American schools and unearths plenty of bad news. Students in low-poverty schools are more than twice as likely to participate in gifted programs than their peers at high-poverty schools, for example, and even when black and Hispanic K–8 students attend schools that offer such programs, they participate at much lower rates than white and Asian children.

The report also offers some welcome-sounding information: Gifted programs exist in 68 percent of U.S. primary and middle schools, and overall they’re equally likely to be offered in low-and high-poverty schools. Yet even this seemingly sunnier news masks the deeply disappointing state of gifted education in America in 2018.

Authors Christopher Yaluma and Adam Tyner used school-reported data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. This is the best source for their purposes, but it also has serious flaws. As Yaluma and Tyner aptly note:

Because of the nature of the data, we use binary classifications of gifted enrollment for students. We do not have data on the quality or characteristics of gifted programming, although this is known to vary considerably...

Jonathan Plucker, Ph.D.

The new Fordham Institute report, Is There a Gifted Gap?, gave me a lot of food for thought this week.

Let’s start with some important positives: Although gifted education research is in many ways thriving, attention to policy research has been woefully underdeveloped, and this study is a major contribution to filling that void. I’ve also been encouraging colleagues to dig into the U.S. Department of Education’s Office For Civil Rights data for a couple years, and it’s nice to see someone do so, and with a substantial payoff. The results also line up with other recent research, providing valid evidence for the findings. For example, the six states with more than 90 percent of high-poverty schools offering gifted programs are similar to those that score highest on an upcoming Jack Kent Cooke Foundation report on state-level policies to close excellence gaps (the first edition is available here). The recommended solutions in this report are also right on the money, which I’ll return to in a bit.

There are, however, some important caveats that readers should consider:

  1. As you work down to the local level, I suspect the results will look different. For example, only two years
  2. ...
M. René Islas

A newly released report, Is There a Gifted Gap?, by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute sheds further light on the many challenges gifted students from underserved populations face in being identified and served.

The report confirms our knowledge that students living in poverty, from racial and ethnic minorities, and who are English learners, are often overlooked for gifted programs.

Data taken from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and the Office of Civil Rights shows that high-poverty schools are just as likely as low poverty schools to have gifted programs available. (See figure 1 from the report.) This key point highlights that the underrepresentation of gifted students from poverty backgrounds is not for lack of programs in high-poverty schools.

Figure 1. High-poverty schools are generally just as likely to have a gifted program as low-poverty schools.

The report should sound an alarm for all advocates for social justice and incite action for changes in policy that create supportive learning environments for all learners, especially for well qualified children from poverty and minority backgrounds who are repeatedly overlooked for gifted programming.

NAGC supports recommendations...

The United States wastes an enormous amount of its human capital by failing to cultivate the innate talents of many of its young people, particularly high-ability girls and boys from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. That failure exacts a great cost from the nation’s economy, widens painful gaps in income, frustrates efforts to spur upward mobility, contributes to civic decay and political division, and worsens the inequalities that plague so many elements of our society.

All of this was reinforced in a widely noted recent study by Alex Bell, Raj Chetty, and colleagues at the Equality of Opportunity Project, which highlighted the inexcusable number of “lost Einsteins” among American students, most of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Their team found that, as early as third grade, math scores help to predict who will be awarded patents in later life—that’s the metric they used for “Einsteins”—but also that such scores explain less than one-third of the “innovation gap” between those growing up in high- versus low-income families. Because this gap grows much wider in the later grades, Bell and Chetty suggest that “low-income children start out on relatively even footing with their higher- income peers in terms of innovation ability, but...

By Stephanie Saroki de García

The Archdiocese of Memphis, Tennessee, announced last week that it intends to close ten schools, all of them part of the “Jubilee Catholic Schools” consortium. Hailed as the “Memphis Miracle” twenty years ago when previously-shuttered inner-city Catholic schools were resurrected to provide a preferential option for the poor in a city with too few good education options, they’ve now fallen victim to the systemic problems that plague so many other Catholic schools, above all an obsolete funding model. In the past, highly educated, truly caring, and strongly motivated religious sisters, brothers, and priests staffed these schools for little or no pay, making it possible to offer an almost free and generally excellent education to many of our nation’s most underserved children, as well as many middle class youngsters from Catholic families. But declines in Catholic religious vocations, anachronistic Blaine amendment obstacles to state funding, and strong public school lobbies render this model unworkable today in many places. In just a few decades, Catholic schools have gone from serving five million students annually to half that number.

This is heartbreaking for myriad reasons. Research, for example, has found that similar closings in Chicago were associated with more crime...

Charter schools have long been criticized for enrolling lower percentages of students with special needs than traditional public schools. However, recent evidence suggests that this gap is narrowing. And a new study from the Institute of Education Sciences examines such changes in Louisiana.

Patrick Wolf, of the University of Arkansas, and Shannon Lasserre-Cortez, from the American Institutes for Research, use data from the Louisiana Department of Education to determine gaps in special education enrollment—defined as the percentage of students who have individualized education plans—in charters and traditional public schools from 2010–14. They look at the four educational regions of Louisiana that have three or more charter schools: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Jefferson and five nearby parishes, and Ouachita and five surrounding parishes. They examine overall enrollment differences and differences based on school level and disability category.

Wolf and Lasserre-Cortez find that, overall, the gap in special education enrollment between charter and district schools narrowed steadily from 2.5 percentage in 2010 points to 0.5 percentage points in 2014, but also that the results were more mixed when broken down by region. The gaps in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans regions both dropped between 2010 and 2014, from 2.8...

Schools have long failed to cultivate the innate talents of many of their young people, particularly high-ability girls and boys from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. This failure harms the economy, widens income gaps, arrests upward mobility, and exacerbates civic decay and political division.

A new Fordham study, Is There a Gifted Gap?: Gifted Education in High-Poverty Schools, addresses these issues. Researchers Christopher Yaluma and Adam Tyner examined the extent to which access to and participation in gifted programs vary for different groups of students, particularly in high-poverty schools. Here’s what they found:

  • More than two-thirds of elementary and middle schools have gifted programs.
  • Overall, high-poverty schools are just as likely as low-poverty schools to have them.
  • Yet students in low-poverty schools are more than twice as likely to participate in such programs.
  • Even when black and Hispanic students have gifted programs in their elementary and middle schools, they participate at much lower rates than their peers. 
  • In schools with gifted programs, only Maryland, Kentucky, and New Hampshire enroll more than 10 percent of the state’s black and Hispanic students in those programs; in twenty-two states it’s less than 5 percent.

Increasing the participation of qualified yet underrepresented students in...

Last week, the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, faced with continued financial struggles and the failure of the most recent state voucher bill, announced a plan to close all ten of its “Jubilee Schools” at the end of next year. When the network first opened on the eve of the Year of Jubilee, in 2000, it was dubbed the “Memphis Miracle,” and it was considered a model for how to revitalize urban Catholic schools serving our poorest communities. Now it’s a cautionary tale—a warning for leaders seeking innovative ways to save urban Catholic schools.

The way the diocese is choosing to close its schools is once again putting Memphis in the spotlight. At the close of the 2018–19 school year, the diocese of Memphis will withdraw its schools completely from the urban communities it has served for decades. In the place of the closed schools, assuming the state authorizer assents, will be nine new public charter schools. Religious instruction in these new charters will be banned from the school day, but diocesan leaders hope that the students will continue to receive an excellent education that prepares them to be giving members of their communities.”

Memphis is not the...

Tomorrow morning, the Council of the District of Columbia will hear testimony on a pair of school discipline bills that would effectively ban non-violent suspensions in grades K–8 and would explicitly prohibit suspensions at the high school level for behavioral infractions, including insubordinate behavior, defiance, disobedience, disrespect, or disruptive or rowdy behavior.

Unfortunately, the findings of Fordham’s recent report on discipline policy reform in Philadelphia suggest that these bills could have unintended and potentially serious consequences, despite their good intentions.

But what do practitioners in Washington think? To find out, we reached out to faculty at two high-performing D.C. charter schools—Robin Chait of Center City PCS and Elaine Hou of Two Rivers PCS—to get their takes on school discipline.

Below is a lightly-edited summary of their responses.

1.) In your school, how do school culture and the discipline code intersect? What are the key ingredients of a strong approach to each?

Center City:

A restorative and positive school culture minimizes disciplinary incidents. Practically we have a discipline code, but philosophically we are working to minimize incidents of discipline through a restorative, reflective, and positive culture of discipline. The discipline policy is a fall back for when all things...

Timothy Daly

In many ways, DeAnthony is a remarkable success story. Currently a fourth grader in a traditional public school just outside Orleans Parish, he has strong grades and near-perfect attendance. Last year, the first time he attempted Louisiana’s state tests, he scored in the highest possible category for both math and English language arts. These results placed him in the top 10 percent of students statewide for each subject. In a city where academic and social results for young African American men like DeAnthony are unacceptably poor, he has a foundation that positions him for an exceptional future.

DeAnthony is fortunate in other respects as well. He comes from a highly engaged family where both parents attend every important school meeting together. He qualifies for free lunch but lives in a safe neighborhood and plays several sports. DeAnthony’s parents are proud of his performance and thrilled that school has come easily to him.

Unfortunately, it is already possible to see barriers that may limit DeAnthony’s long-term potential. Teachers report that he can be bored or distracted. This year, for the first time, his parents began receiving calls about him talking back to adults. And he earned a C in English language...