Thursday, July 13, 2017

High-Achieving, Low-Income Students Excluded From Gifted Classes, Investigation Finds

High-Achieving, Low-Income Students Excluded From Gifted Classes, Investigation Finds:

High-Achieving, Low-Income Students Excluded From Gifted Classes, Investigation Finds

gifted programs discrimination

Are smart students from poor families more likely to be overlooked for gifted or high-level math classes? The answer is a resounding yes, a team of North Carolina investigative journalists has found.
Last month, led by reporter Joseph Neff, the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., unveiled a three-part series, called “Counted Out,” that showed convincingly how high-achieving, low-income North Carolina students are very often excluded from the classes that would challenge their abilities and help them attend college and climb out of poverty, while equally achieving, wealthier students are counted in.
Using anonymized state records involving tens of thousands of students and zeroing in on end-of-grade achievement tests, Neff found that just one out of three low-income students with superior math scores was labeled gifted by educators, compared to one out of two students—with equal achievement—from wealthier homes. These high-potential, low-income students also were found much less likely to take high school math in middle school, “an important step toward the type of transcript that will open college doors,” notes Neff, with his colleagues Ann Doss Helms and David Raynor.
Neff and his colleagues identified a “web of barriers” that work against low-income students, including some districts’ complicated measures of giftedness that favor students from English-speaking homes with high exposure to sophisticated language. They also found low-income parents who were less likely to ask the right questions, or know how to advocate for their children. Bottom line: “The unequal treatment during the six years ending in 2015 resulted in 9,000 low-income children in North Carolina being counted out of classes that could have opened a new academic world to them.”
Recently, Neff spoke with NEA Today about their work.
Q: How did the series develop? Was it generated by reader feedback, or some other impetus?
A: One of our top editors asked us to do something about education, and so the first thing I did was to go to the Department of Education and request a list of databases. We found an ocean of data from every school district, every school, every classroom, every student…We don’t know who the students are, because it’s anonymized data, but we know quite a lot about them—their race, their family’s income, the classes they’ve taken.
There’s been a lot of reporting on the achievement gap, but most of it has focused on kids who are below grade level and what’s done to bring them up. We thought we’d look at kids above grade level, the highest achieving kids, and how they’re sorted and tracked, as early as fourth grade. What we found is that socioeconomic status is the most significant, predictive factor in the data.
Source: “Counted Out,” The News and Observer, Raleigh, NC. (Click to Enlarge)

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