With the deadline to apply for the Denver Public School system’s Highly Gifted and Talented program quickly approaching, a report by a Colorado education news service finds that the program is suffering from significant ethnic imbalances.
According to Education News Colorado, most of DPS’ gifted programs, including the Highly Gifted and Talented program (also known as HGT) is overwhelming filled with white and Asian students, a statistic that stands in sharp contract to the rest of the DPS system, in which the vast majority of students as African American and Hispanic.
Authors Katie Kerwin McCrimmon and Nancy Mitchell point to a number of factors for the ethnic discrepancy in the student totals, including possible confusion about the application deadline.
The article, on EdNewsColorado.org, states that the deadline to apply for the HGT magnet program was moved up to this Friday (October 22), which might affect efforts at diversifying the program. In 2009, the deadline was in November and in 2008 the deadline was in December.
This yearly change in the deadline, the article suggests, might have an effect on the efforts of parents, teachers and students to qualify for the program. One principal, Polaris at Ebert’s Karin Johnson, stated that the earlier deadline may also have an impact on the diversity of the program.
According to statistics analyzed by EdNewsColorado.org, white students represent 25 percent of the 2009-10 total DPS student population but 41 percent of the students in the gifted programs. Asian students make up 4 percent of the total student population in DPS but comprise 6 percent of the gifted student population.
Conversely, Hispanic students comprise 54 percent of the DPS student enrollment but only 41 percent of the gifted program student enrollment and black students are 16 percent of DPS student enrolment but only 11 percent of gifted program enrollment.
American Indian students were one percent of the student body and 0.7 percent of the gifted programs.
The numbers become even more dramatic, EdNewsColorado.org said, when those students in the HGT program are isolated. White students comprise 75 percent of HGT students, Hispanics make up 13 percent, Asian students comprise 7 percent and black students are 5 percent of all HGT students.
The article suggests that preparation may be the main reason behind the disproportionate numbers. While students in the gifted programs are part of a routine assessment, in the second and fourth grade, to be eligible for the HGT program students must not only apply but score at or above the 97th percentile on several tests including math and verbal abilities.
This special test is what makes preparation so vital to being admitted to the HGT program and the EdNewsColorado.org article cites several teachers and programs that are not only seeking out students who may qualify for the program but increasing community awareness to promote gifted program diversity.
Farrell B. Howell ECE teacher Sandi Eckert, the article states, has made it a mission to seek out gifted students who “fall under the radar”, while Johnson, the Polaris principal, conducts community outreach programs in conjunction with Metro Organizations for People to boost minority enrollment in their gifted programs.
EdNewsColorado.org’s website includes a link to the DPS’ Highly Gifted and Talented program application form.