The Baton Rouge Alliance for Students applauds the East Baton Rouge School Board for supporting universal screening for gifted students. This unifying vote speaks volumes to universal screening as a powerful tool to help increase equity in the identification of student talent and performance potential.
In the past, schools relied on referrals from teachers or parents before testing a student for gifted placement. The problem with this approach is that many historically underserved students who meet the gifted criteria are never identified for reasons beyond their control. This leads to a disparity in program availability and many qualified students being left behind. The district’s own 2022 study showed just 127 children enrolled in gifted & talented programs in the North and Broadmoor/Sherwood areas of the city, as compared to 1,267 students in the Southeast, Mid City, and South parts of the parish.
School districts around the country have already made the shift from referrals to universal testing with positive results. One of the most diverse districts in Texas, the Richardson Independent School District (RISD), adopted this approach and saw the number of second graders identified for gifted services increase from 1 percent to 10 percent, including a sharp increase in the inclusion of minority and economically disadvantaged students.
We are at a pivotal moment in the future of the district, and this policy is a commonsense, widely recognized step that can be taken to enrich student achievement. There are talented students in every school and every neighborhood in Baton Rouge, and they all deserve the opportunity to demonstrate their gifts and unleash their potential.