In public school systems all around the country, educators – teachers, counselors, and administrators – have made significant progress in identifying and recruiting diverse populations in gifted and enrichment programs. Despite the efforts, too many African American students and other students of color (e.g., Hispanic Americans and Native Americans) are not faring well in gifted education. The social and cultural obstacles (e.g., racial and ethnic prejudice, negative peer pressure, poor parental involvement, negative teacher and counselor expectations, etc.) that students of color, particularly African Americans, face in gifted education are well known. In order to improve African American student retention, it is clear that public school systems must do more. Recruitment is an important component for increasing the number of African American students in gifted education, but retention is equally important. Using multiple frameworks, this article examines the notion of retention and its many challenges and offers recommendations for improving the retention of African American students in gifted education.
PUTTING THE RESEARCH TO USE:
A litany of publications has focused on the persistent underrepresentation of African American students in gifted education programs. In response, school personnel (e.g., teachers, counselors, and administrators) have attempted to develop strategies to increase the representation of these students in gifted education programs. Efforts primarily target fining instruments and developing policies and procedures to recruit gifted African American students. Less often is there a focus on retaining diverse students in gifted programs once they have been recruited (that is, identified and placed). In this article, we extrapolate from the work of scholars and social scientists in higher education, many of whom bemoan the loss of diverse students who opt to withdraw from college, and draw implications for gifted education. Our thesis is that this underrepresentation problem will persist until educators more assertively focus on both the recruitment and retention of students of color. We argue, in other words, that recruitment is not enough to change the demographics of gifted education and otherwise increase access to these programs for African American students.