Making strides to identify more minority students in the district's gifted program


Last year at one of the Duval County School Board Workshops, board members and Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti discussed plans to increase the number of minority students in the district’s gifted program. This summer, the district’s “Real Talk” delved into the topic which peaked my interests.

According to the 2015-2016 Duval County Public Schools District Profile, there was a significant increase in the number of African-American gifted students by 121% from 325 in 2012-2013 to 719 in 2013-2014. It’s important to note that Duval County Public Schools is reporting data from students enrolled in the gifted program at any point during the respective school year.

The increase was discussed on the district’s “Real Talk” in July:

Matt Biegen and Vickie Pierre spoke with Gail Roberts, Executive Director of Exceptional Education and Student Services, Linda, a San Mateo Elementary teacher, and Rebecca, parent of two gifted students in elementary and secondary.

Duval County has made an effort to increase the number of low-economic, free and reduced lunch and English Language Learners students. Currently, the district has a student body of 125,164. Ethnicity groups by breakdown are as follows: African American 43.6 percent, Caucasian 37.1 percent, Hispanic 9.8 percent, Multiracial 4.7 percent, Asian 4.6 percent and Native American 0.2 percent.

“There are over 5,000 students of being eligible to be served in Duval County,” Roberts said.

The Florida Department of Education states to be gifted you have to demonstrate “superior intellectual development and be capable of high performance.” Any parent or student can refer themselves to the gifted program to be tested. The gifted program serves students in K-12.

Things you should know about the gifted program:

  • In the classroom, students work collaboratively in group settings, debate one another, exercise divergent and convergent thinking.

  • A student’s Education Plan (EP) are discussed with parents which documents the student’s differentiated learning styles, problem solving skills and self awareness surrounding their giftedness.

  • You can get an IQ score on your own or through the district. If you request an IQ assessment through the district, it’s free. If a child fails to pass the IQ assessment then they have to wait a year to retake the exam.

  • Teachers within the gifted program receive rigorous training to effectively instruct gifted students.

This summer, American University and Johns Hopkins University shed light on the importance of high academic expectations for African-American high school students. “Who Believes in Me? The Effect of Student-Teacher Demographic Match on Teacher Expectations” shows evidence that systematic bias exists among non-black teachers when evaluating a student’s education attainment. The study identified the impact of demographic mismatch on teachers’ expectations of students by having two teachers report their expectations for the same student. “For example, when a black student is evaluated by one black teacher and by one non-black teacher, the non-black teacher is about 30 percent less likely to expect that the student will complete a four-year college degree than the black teacher.” The study was completed among a national representative sample of tenth graders among math and reading teachers.

It’s great to know that our school district is making great strides to ensure that more minority students are being identified and assessed to join the gifted program. The first step to addressing equity for all students is having meaningful discussions then creating action to power the potential of change.

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Additional Resources

Listen to the entire Real Talk episode on the “Gifted Program”

Exceptional Education & Student Services website

Gail W. Roberts, Executive Director

Exceptional Education & Student Services






of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.