Black, Latino Children Underrepresented In Illinois Gifted Programs | WBEZ
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Black, Latino Children Underrepresented In Illinois Gifted Programs

Black and Latino children are being left out of gifted programs at a higher rate than their white and Asian counterparts, a new report finds.

Myles Mendoza is executive director of One Chance Illinois, the group behind the report.

“I went through the process of getting my kids tested,” Mendoza says. “When I looked around, I saw who was around me and it was a lot of parents like me.”

Mendoza lives on the North Side and has three children in Chicago Public Schools, which relies mostly on parents opting their children into gifted testing. But Mendoza said CPS isn’t the only district in the state with disproportionate numbers of white and Asian students in gifted programs.

Peoria District 150 had the largest gap for black students, West Chicago District 33 had the largest gap for Latino students, and Rock Island District 41 had the largest gap for poor students. Some districts did not respond to data requests, according to the report.

Additionally, One Chance Illinois also found that districts with more low-income students of color were also less likely to have the funding to run a gifted program.

Previous research shows the first step to fixing the problem would be for districts to start screening every child that enrolls, regardless of background. The Broward County Public Schools in Florida did just that in 2005 and saw a huge increase in the number of black and Latino children identified as gifted.

Illinois districts that had higher rates of black and Latino students in gifted programs -- like Naperville District 203 and Indian Prairie District 204 -- also test all students.

“There’s a missed opportunity,” Mendoza says. “If districts want to see a jump in their academic growth, identifying gifted kids that are low income kids of color is a very quick way of making a leap forward fast.”

Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her @WBEZeducation.

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