America’s gifted education programs have a race problem. Can it be fixed?
Nearly 60 percent of students in gifted education are white, according to the most recent federal data, compared to 50 percent of public school enrollment overall. Black students, in contrast, made up 9 percent of students in gifted education, although they were 15 percent of the overall student population.
Many factors contribute to this disparity. Gifted education has racism in its roots: Lewis Terman, the psychologist who in the 1910s popularized the concept of “IQ” that became the foundation of gifted testing, was a eugenicist. And admissions for gifted programs tend to favor children with wealthy, educated parents, who are more likely to be white.
Though it took several decades for gifted education experts to raise concerns, they have been trying to diminish segregation for a generation. If it were easy, it would be done by now.