Lower-income elementary students are less likely than their wealthier counterparts to be placed in gifted programs—even when those students go to the same school and have the same levels of academic achievement, according to a new study entitled “Money over Merit? Socioeconomic Gaps in Receipt of Gifted Services.”

Nashville Public Radio reports that the study is the first of it’s kind to use both national data and achievement data. It was conducted by Vanderbilt and the University of Florida, and published in the Harvard Educational Review.

“The biggest separation wasn’t across schools, but within schools,” study co-author Jason Grissom, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, said. “We found kids going to the exact same schools had very different probabilities of being assigned on the basis of socioeconomic status.”

“I think our results suggest that the district would benefit from taking a hard look at its assignment processes and how kids are identified [for gifted programs],” Grissom continued.

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Nashville’s number of Black and Latino students in the school district’s gifted program falls short of its equity requirements, according to the city’s most recent diversity data.


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