Gifted Students

In schools nationwide, boys of color are far less likely than their white male peers to be selected for participation in school programs designed for gifted students. While some may argue that it is because there are few male students of color prepared for the rigor of these opportunities, research shows that this is not the only explanation for the disparity in participation and access. The selection for these programs is often subjective and at the discretion of teachers and school counselors who weigh factors beyond academic achievement such as behavior or attendance. Behavior issues are often seen with cultural bias toward males of color. Poor attendance and behavior may very well be a function of boredom in school due to lack of rigorous coursework, or an indicator of external familial circumstances. In either case, male students should not be denied the opportunity to participate in coursework for gifted students.

In many high minority, high poverty schools, there is little opportunity for anyone to participate in classes or programs for gifted students because the offerings are not even available. These schools often lack the resources to adequately provide basic education, making it impossible to offer additional courses without added funding. Often, districts are hesitant to provide resource for gifted coursework to these schools, as it is a widely-held belief that there are insufficient students in these schools to warrant the course offerings. Thus, many male students of color are denied this opportunity simply because they and their peers are poor.

This phenomenon is not limited, however, to low-income students of color in high minority schools. Across all school districts, there is disparity in the number of boys of color selected for gifted and talented education programs and enrolled in higher level courses.

access to gifted and talented education 

A comparison of high schools with the lowest African American & Hispanic enrollments versus those with the highest African American & Hispanic enrollments revealed the following:


High Schools Serving the Least African American and Hispanic Students

High Schools Serving the Most African American and Hispanic Students

Offer Algebra II

82% 65%

Offer Physics

66% 40%

Offer Calculus

55% 29%






Source: US Department of Education, Civil Rights Data Collection (CDRC), March 2012 


COSEBOC believes the following policy solutions are needed to improve access to programs and courses for gifted boys of color:

  1. School districts should develop and utilize an objective selection processes that eliminates the subjective selection of students based on teacher opinion or perceptions about behavior and ability.
  2. School districts should establish a target and benchmarks for increasing the participation of boys of color in gifted and talented education programs and higher level coursework.


Relevant Publications/Resources on Gifted Students

The Transformed Civil Rights Data Collection - March 2012 Data Summary

Integrating Multicultural and Gifted Education: A Curricular Framework