Report: Seattle’s Gifted Program Favors Whites

Emily Heffter, Seattle Times, December 3, 2007

An outside review of gifted education in Seattle Public Schools said the district should act aggressively to diversify its program.

Almost three-quarters of the students enrolled in the Accelerated Progress Program (APP) are white, compared to about 40 percent districtwide.

Concerns about APP were noted by a group of consultants from the University of Virginia who were hired by the district to review the program. Their report was released today.

About 1,500 students in APP are admitted after testing in the 98th or 99th percentile nationally in cognitive ability and reading and math skills. They can spend almost their entire public-school experience together, starting at Lowell Elementary School, on to Washington Middle and finishing at Garfield High.

But according to the report, APP is perceived to be “elitist, exclusionary and even racist,” and that some of its African-American students are bullied and isolated.

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The report also raised concern about student selection, saying admission to the program relies too much on a single test and is unfair to low-income students and students without parental support.

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The program’s curriculum lacks vision, the report said, and rigor in classes is inconsistent. “The philosophy and definition of giftedness in Seattle do not reflect current developments in the field of gifted education,” it said.

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