Selection Process for Third and Fourth Grade African American Gifted and Talented: A Case Study in One Urban School District
The purpose of this study was to examine teacher perceptions of third and fourth grade African American students who might be selected for the gifted and talented program. It is the first study concerning teachers? perceptions of African American students in an urban school district with a relatively high representation of African American students and teachers in the gifted and talented program. The results showed the improvement in African American representation in gifted and talented programs that can result from positive teacher perceptions of African American students. Since these positive perceptions may be due, at least in part, to the high proportion of African American teachers in the school district under study, these results suggest a link between an increased proportion of African American teachers, positive teacher perceptions of African American students and an improvement in African American representation in gifted and talented programs. Public educational policy should strive to increase the proportion of African American teachers. This could be achieved by modifying standardized tests used for teacher certification, which researchers have shown to be biased against minority cultures, and also by university recruitment to attract African Americans to education. The results also suggest the need for increased levels of multicultural and urban courses as a standard part of pre-service teacher education. Quality instruction in these areas can contribute toward a greater understanding among teachers of the effect of culture in the classroom and, thereby reduce the tendency to form low expectations of African American and other minority students. This indulgence in deficit thinking needs an aggressive intervention before prospective teachers enter the classroom where some may propagate the detrimental effects of low teacher expectations on another generation of African American students. Increased levels of multicultural and urban education among teachers can also help teachers understand how to interact with African American parents in a constructive manner. This is an important step in creating a school environment, which encourages parental school involvement and, thereby allows African American students readily to enjoy more the academic benefits of parental involvement. When these steps are implemented, this may lead to an increase of African American students to the gifted and talented program.