Racial disparity found in CMS' Academically Gifted program - | WBTV Charlotte

Racial disparity found in CMS' Academically Gifted program

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) says it's working on making numbers more diverse when it comes to the district's Academically Gifted program. 

More than 18,000 students make up the Academically Gifted program which is offered for students who are gifted in reading and math. Out of those 18,000 students in the district's program, 64 percent of students are white and 14 percent of students are black. 

"I clearly think we have far more youngsters that should be gifted," Arthur Griffin said, who is the black political caucus education committee co-chair.

"Giftedness is like Baskin Robbins ice cream," Griffin said. "It comes in many flavors. It's not just vanilla."

Griffin says he was the school board chairman for CMS nearly 15 years ago. He says African-Americans made up 10 percent of the Academically Gifted Program back then, but that number rose slightly to 14 percent this previous school year.  

"I am not very pleased that we have made such little progress over the decades," Griffin said.

Griffin believes CMS needs to make some changes so all students can have access to the same experience.

"We need to figure out how to be more creative in the assessment processes," Griffin said. "There's more than just one way in determining giftedness. CMS needs to look at those various strategies."

CMS says it will apply for a federal grant to help evaluate how the district is identifying students. Mary McCray, who is the school board chairperson for CMS, says she wants this to be a priority for new CMS superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox.

"The emphasis of the district around equity was diminished over the last decade or two, because we don't keep our eye on the ball," Griffin said.

CMS says the subject of the Academically Gifted program may come up during the school board's retreat in August.

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