Clark County School Board approves expanded testing for gifted program

Instead of screening only the students recommended for gifted and talented programs, as is normally done, about $178,000 will be spent to universally test all 19,900 second-graders at Clark County’s poorest, highest-minority schools.

The intent of the $8.95 expense per student, unanimously approved by the Clark County School Board on Thursday, is to increase minority students’ representation in the district’s gifted and talented education programs, called GATE.

“I’m proud of the district for saying, ‘We have a problem,’ and addressing it,” Clark County Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Kristine Minnich said.

The effort is nothing new. The Clark County School District paid $167,000 — also a little less than $9 per student — to do the same universal screening last school year.

In 2009, the district started universally screening second-graders in Title I schools, which are campuses where at least 40 percent of students live in poverty.

While black and Hispanic students represented 54 percent of all Clark County students in 2009, these students accounted for only 24 percent of the students in gifted education, according to district officials. These ethnic groups commonly underperform their white and Asian peers on state tests.

By the start of this school year, black and Hispanic students still made up about half of the district’s total enrollment but represented 37 percent of all gifted students, a 54 percent jump since 2009.

“Keep it up and do more,” board member Carolyn Edwards said.

To be accepted into GATE, second-grade students must score in the top 2 percent compared with their peers on the Nagileri Non-Verbal Abilities Test. They then receive 150 minutes of differentiated instruction per week for third through fifth grade.

The test is tailored it to be culturally unbiased, said Minnich, noting how people often associate gifted students with high vocabulary. But many students may not be proficient in English because of their upbringing but show traits for being gifted.

“I just want to say how wonderful that is (to have a culturally unbiased test), and the results are outstanding,” said Linda Young, the only black board member out of seven representatives. “Sometimes we complain about the things we don’t have but forget about the things we do have.”

Five board members are white, and the board’s newest member, Stavan Corbett, is Hispanic.

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279702-383-0279.


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