Makya Little, who served on the council and advocates for students of color at her alma mater, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, said teacher recommendations and “parenting hacks” drive much of the inequitable access around advanced coursework.
Who teachers view as gifted affects who they offer recommendations to, and sometimes parents can find ways to get their kids into gifted programs if they’re part of certain communities, Little said.
“If the teacher doesn’t [nominate your child], typically parents can have their students tested by a private company to say, ‘Well my child scored on this assessment, and I want them moved,’” she said. “Now that is one of those … parenting hacks that very few know about. … Well, if you’re not going to the PTA meetings, in the circles, you don’t know that. And it gives them an unfair advantage.”
To combat this and similar pipeline issues when it comes to gifted programming and disparities in earlier advanced coursework, the council also advised that the state require open enrollment for Advanced Placement courses.
While many of the recommendations call for more transparency in school quality profiles, like requiring school systems to report the gifted enrollment data and teacher diversity data as part of their school quality profiles, some could be more complicated.