Race, Gifted Testing, and Preferential Treatment


April 7, 2017 – Here’s our weekly roundup of education news you may have missed. Preferential college admissions for the children of major donors is examined and criticized, research shows black students benefit by having black teachers, and Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold Levy calls for early testing of all children to identify more low-income students who would benefit from gifted education programs.

Thank you to all who applied for the 2017 Cooke Young Scholars Program! The application is now closed.

Elementary & Secondary Education

  • Scholars at Johns Hopkins University released research that shows having just one black teacher in elementary school decreases the chance a black student will drop out of high school by 29 percent.
  • In an innovative approach to reducing the achievement gap for low-income students, the state of Idaho has started giving money directly to teenagers for pre-college academic enrichment. The state puts $4,125 in an account for every Idaho 7th -12th grader to spend on anything needed to be better prepared for college, according to the Hechinger Report.


Higher Education

  • A report in the Washington Post says that “the University of Virginia’s fundraising team for years has sought to help children of wealthy alumni and prominent donors who apply for admission, flagging their cases internally for special handling.” The article quotes Harold Levy criticizing such admission preferences. An editorial in the student newspaper at the university, the Cavalier Daily, carries the headline “U.Va. admission should be based on merit, not money.”
  • Gaining admission to an elite college rather than a less-selective one does not matter a great deal for high- or middle-income students, The Atlantic reports. However, research has shown that for low-income students who are the first in their families to go to college, elite schools are game-changers. 
  • In a moving piece published in The Stanford Daily, student Amanda Rizkalla examines food insecurity experienced by low-income college students, especially when dining halls are closed during breaks.


Cooke Foundation Highlights

  • In an op-ed in The New York Daily News, Harold Levy calls for early testing of all children to identify those who would benefit from participation in gifted and talented education programs. Far too few low-income children are now being tested, severely limiting their participation in such programs.
  • The Daily Pennsylvanian, student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania, calls for an end to early-decision admissions to increase opportunities for high-achieving, low-income students to gain admission. The editorial links to the Cooke Foundation’s “True Merit” report to back up its argument. 


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