Black students more likely to be identified as gifted if teachers are black

May 10, 2016, Indiana University

African-American children are three times as likely to be placed in gifted-education programs if they have a black teacher rather than a white teacher, according to research conducted by faculty members at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Vanderbilt University.

The research also finds that are 54 percent less likely than white students to be identified as eligible for gifted-education services after adjusting for the students' previous scores on standardized tests, demographic factors, and school and teacher characteristics.

The results suggest the key factor is that are more likely than white teachers to see black students as gifted—and not that the students or their parents are doing anything differently to gain one of the limited seats in programs for .

The article, "Disentangling the Causal Mechanisms of Representative Bureaucracy: Evidence from Assignment of Students to Gifted Programs," appears in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. Authors are Sean Nicholson-Crotty and Jill Nicholson-Crotty, associate professors in SPEA at IU Bloomington, and Jason Grissom and Christopher Redding of Vanderbilt University.

"We find that African-American students are under-represented in gifted programs," Sean Nicholson-Crotty said. "And we find that having a black teacher dramatically increases the likelihood that a black student will be placed in a gifted program, relative to having a white teacher."

Previous studies had shown that African-American students are underrepresented in gifted programs, but the studies were based on organizational-level data and could not determine what caused the underrepresentation. The current study makes use of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, kindergarten cohort, a federal program that tracks information about students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

These data make it possible to measure the odds that black and white students will be placed in gifted programs, with adjustments made for student, teacher and school characteristics, test scores and other factors. These data also allow the researchers to draw conclusions about a causal mechanism that can explain the observation that black students are more likely to be identified as gifted with black classroom teachers.

Specifically, the study shows that black teachers' perceptions of black students are more positive than are white teachers' perceptions, and these perceptions drive assignment differences. Black teachers more positively assess black students' approaches to learning, self-control and other behaviors that may be important in identifying giftedness.

"It's that teacher-student match, independent of your test score," Jill Nicholson-Crotty said. "It's the relationship between the teacher and the student."

These findings accord with those from another recently published study, by researchers at American University and Johns Hopkins University, which found that black teachers had higher expectations than white teachers that black students would succeed in school.

The authors did not find support for another possible outcome suggested in the academic literature: that black students are more likely to be recommended for gifted programs by both black and white teachers when those teachers are part of a racially diverse teaching force. They also found no evidence of two other potential explanations for the results. One is that black students perform better on and other objective measures of giftedness if they have black teachers. Another is that parents of black students are more likely to engage with teachers and lobby to have their children evaluated for giftedness if their teachers are black.

Gifted education programs have long been subject to criticism that their selection criteria, which often rely on IQ testing and other measures of cognitive ability, are biased against students of color and poor children. But the current study suggests African-American students can also be left behind in the referral process, when teachers recommend students to be evaluated for gifted programs.

The researchers say the findings point to the value for schools of recruiting and hiring more teachers of color. While teachers and students should not be matched by race, they say, having a more diverse teaching force would raise the odds that black students would have a black teacher in the early grades when students are typically identified for gifted programs.

Another policy response, they said, would be to screen all students for giftedness, not just those who are referred by or parents, and to provide outreach to parents so they have the information and skills to help schools identify their children as gifted.

Explore further: Race biases teachers' expectations for students

More information: Sean Nicholson-Crotty et al, Disentangling the Causal Mechanisms of Representative Bureaucracy: Evidence From Assignment of Students to Gifted Programs, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (2016). DOI: 10.1093/jopart/muw024

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13 comments

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rderkis
1.6 / 5 (7) May 10, 2016
It sounds like they are saying, that the black teachers are raciest. That's terrible!
Guy_Underbridge
3.5 / 5 (11) May 10, 2016
Learn to read, rderkis

"We find that African-American students are under-represented in gifted programs," Sean Nicholson-Crotty said. "And we find that having a black teacher dramatically increases the likelihood that a black student will be placed in a gifted program, relative to having a white teacher."
AlbertPierrepointOBE
2.5 / 5 (11) May 10, 2016
He's missed the critical period, like most the trolls on here. I'll probably be seeing him in a professional capacity some day.
rderkis
2 / 5 (8) May 10, 2016
Guy_Underbridge learn to read with more than just your lips :-)
Still sounds like they are saying, that the black teachers are raciest. That's terrible
BongThePuffin
May 10, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
rderkis
3 / 5 (2) May 10, 2016
Quote BartV - T "Oh for the day when we don't ever have to tell anyone our race anymore!"

That time is quickly coming. We will soon be able to change our race thru genetic engineering as easily as we change hair styles. And IQ will be as high as we want. You may ask why would anyone choose a lower IQ than the max?
Perhaps like in nature there is a optimum IQ that provides a balance between intelligence and happiness. Hopefully that will still be vary vary high.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) May 10, 2016
Oh for the day when we don't ever have to tell anyone our race anymore!

Just go to a country where no one cares about race. There's plenty of those around.

...or go on the interent.

As for IQ scores: Those are a bit tricky because there are predispositions in ways of thinking
E.g. someone who grows up in China is more likely to think in pictures as opposed to someone in the west who is more likely to think in terms of words...which is a direct result of what kind of communication tool you are taught to use predominantly when you grow up.

The way IQ tests are written does influence the scores. So a result of 'racial disparity in IQ' should always be taken with a huge grain of salt if the IQ test is written by a particular ethnic group. This isn't even an intentional bias (though it can be).
julianpenrod
1.7 / 5 (6) May 10, 2016
An example of methods of Liberal party lies.
Among other things, have a target audience composed only of dullards and imbeciles.
Among other things, too, tell the truth, but in a way that will lead the morons to connect the dots the wrong way. "Blacks students are under represented", but is it because they are kept back or because they genuinely aren't gifted? "Blacks teachers' perceptions of black students are more positive". Are their perceptions more positive, or do they lie and say they see more potential in black students when they don't? Then put them in gifted programs to increase their standing?
rderkis
3 / 5 (2) May 10, 2016
Or is it simply a honest mistake because prejudice is built in us all for whatever reason.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) May 10, 2016
Prejudice is a natural expression of the process of speciation, our 'urge to diverge'. Tribes whose members have spent many gens adapting to local environments have much to lose genetically from comingling with interlopers.

Conversely, interlopers have much to gain for their offspring by mixing their genes with indigenes.

Prejudice is so ingrained that tribes typically consider neighboring tribes a little less human than they. Crimes committed within the tribe are actually encouraged against outsiders.

The tribal dynamic - internal empathy coupled with external animosity - has been selected for. Members who trust each other more and are willing to fight and sacrifice for each other, can be expected to win out in conflict with other tribes.

Of course you can't tell people this. It weakens the concept of the universal tribe which takes so much effort to maintain.

It is however the only hope we have of saving us from ourselves.
Rydog
1 / 5 (3) May 10, 2016
Guy_Underbridge learn to read with more than just your lips :-)
Still sounds like they are saying, that the black teachers are raciest. That's terrible

Yep, that's one way to read it. Other possible readings: Black teachers can't tell gifted students from non-gifted students, Black kids do better with black teachers, Black teachers have more black kids in their class, etc.
barakn
2.3 / 5 (6) May 10, 2016
The gap between black and white IQ is approx 15-18 points.
http://library.fl...m/iq.htm

Maybe there is a real reason (besides racism) why white teachers don't designate as many black students as gifted.

Anyway, I really wish we forget these race comparisons become more race-agnostic. Oh for the day when we don't ever have to tell anyone our race anymore! -BartV
You post a link to a white separatist website and then wish for race-agnosticism? Obviously you were never identified as gifted.
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (3) May 11, 2016
I wonder how many of these kids' parents thought they were gifted?

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