Must-read: Susan Dynarski: “Why Talented Black and Hispanic Students Can Go Undiscovered”

Must-Read: Susan Dynarski: Why Talented Black and Hispanic Students Can Go Undiscovered: “Broward County…. More than half of its students are black or Hispanic…

…Yet, as of 10 years ago, just 28 percent of the third graders who were identified as gifted were black or Hispanic…. Broward County introduced a universal screening program, requiring that all second graders take a short nonverbal test, with high scorers referred for I.Q. testing…. David Card… and Laura Giuliano… studied the effects of this policy shift…. The share of Hispanic children identified as gifted tripled, to 6 percent from 2 percent. For black children, the share rose to 3 percent from 1 percent. For whites, the increase was more muted, to 8 percent from 6 percent…. Teachers and parents were less likely to refer high-ability blacks and Hispanics, as well as children learning English as a second language, for I.Q. testing. The universal test leveled the playing field….

Broward requires that schools with even one child who tests above the I.Q. cutoff devote an entire classroom to gifted and high-achieving children. Since a school in Broward rarely had enough gifted children to fill a class, these classrooms were topped off with children from the same school who scored high on the district’s standardized test. These high achievers, especially black and Hispanics, showed large increases in math and reading when placed in a class for the gifted, and these effects persisted…. All of these gains came at little financial cost….

Despite these positive results, Broward County suspended its universal screening program in 2010 during a spate of budget cutting in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Racial and ethnic disparities re-emerged, as large as they were before the policy change…

April 9, 2016


Brad DeLong
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