Black Lives Matter in Gifted Programs

Jessica Stargardter

Black lives matter in our gifted programs. It’s time to do the work to reflect this idea.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have been the tipping point for many people to become involved in the movement. These senseless killings and countless more are unacceptable.

Gifted education needs to step up and advocate for racial justice. This is not about culturally responsive buzzwords, hashtags, and social media posts. This is about our children’s lives, minds, and future.

The Problem

Gifted programs have long been seen as elite institutions created for upper class, White, suburban American students. While the dial is slowly turning towards equitable processes in identification and services, gifted programs are not doing enough.

Nationwide, gifted education is far from representing minority student populations proportionally.

“Within schools, students of color generally are less likely than White students to be identified even when they satisfy criteria for gifted services” (Grissom & Redding, 2016).

Researchers in the gifted education field have acknowledged racial disparities for many years. According to the U.S. Department of Education and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) “African American students constitute 16.7% of the student population but just 9.8% of students in gifted programs” (2010).

There are multiple factors contributing to this disproportionality. Teacher bias, lack of Black teachers, scarce programming and funding, lower achievement scores amongst minority populations, and incorrect identification practices all cause underrepresentation of students of color in gifted programs.

Overwhelming research shows the positive student outcomes of gifted programs. Studies show students in these programs have increased academic achievement, higher levels of motivation and confidence, and a stronger sense of self-efficacy (Grissom & Redding, 2016). It is time to provide these benefits to our Black children too.

If gifted programs remain majority White and Asian, we are sending a message to gifted Black children all around the country that they don’t matter.

Ok, but where do I start?

Look at the district, school system, program, classroom you work in.

“Dismantling segregation and building equitable schools for our best and brightest should be the goal for all. To do anything less is not only morally wrong, but just bad for all of us” (Gilman).

As a White gifted educator in a field of predominantly White teachers, administrators, researchers, professors, and students, here’s what I am doing.

  • I am calling for anti-racist policies, curriculum, and services in gifted programs.
  • I am speaking up because for too long we have acknowledged the problem, but done nothing about it. 
  • I am calling on White educators to make a difference in our gifted programs.
  • I am calling on you to make Black lives matter in our gifted programs.
  • Let’s take a serious look at our schools’ treatment of our brightest, Black minds. Black lives matter.

Click Here for Additional Action Steps and Resources I'll be using.




Gilman, Whiting. Gifted Black Girl — Uninterrupted. National Association for Gifted Children.

Grissom, J.A. & Redding, C. (2016). Discretion and Disproportionality. American Educational Research Association, Vol. 2 (No. 1), pp. 1–25. DOI: 10.1177/2332858415622175

U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Civil rights data collection, 2009–2010: National and stateestimations. Retrieved from http://

Jessica Stargardter is a gifted and talented teacher in Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk, CT

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of NAGC