COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite their ability to succeed at advanced coursework, new research shows, black and Latino students in Ohio and other states often are locked out of opportunities for advanced learning.
The report from the Education Trust examined the underlying causes of the disparities and found two main drivers. Kayla Patrick, a policy analyst for the trust, said schools that enroll the most black and Latino students have slightly fewer seats available in advanced courses – and schools that are considered more racially diverse are less likely to enroll black and Latino students in those courses.
“You might walk into a high school and the hallways are racially diverse, but the classrooms are not. The classrooms are segregated by race,” she said. “So, we really want district leaders and school leaders to really look at who’s inside their classrooms and making sure that everyone has a fair opportunity to enroll.”
The report found Ohio would need to double the number of black students – both in elementary gifted programs and advanced-placement high school classes – to ensure fair representation. It makes a variety of recommendations to expand access to advanced learning opportunities, Patrick said, including implementing universal screening for gifted and talented programs, as well as automatic enrollment, “to make sure that every student who is ready for that advanced coursework has the opportunity to enroll in these courses. So, that’s either allowing the students who have the grades, the previous coursework, and who really want to be in the course are allowed to be in the course.”
Patrick also encouraged districts to provide supports for success, both for teachers and students.
“So making sure that teachers have the professional development and are ready to teach students in these advanced coursework opportunities,” she said. “And it also means providing tutoring, and maybe after-school programs or summer programs, that really catch students up and have them ready and prepared.”
She said states also should set clear, measurable goals for access to advanced coursework, and use data to identify factors that may be preventing students of color from enrolling.
The report is online at edtrust.org.
This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.
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