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Finding Talent

Our school routinely uses data to identify students with potential and actively works to place those students in courses to allow for college preparation. In this process, we specifically look for students who have not been traditionally recruited into college preparation classes. 

Not Yet

Little or no attempt to assess whether current systems may be passing up students with potential.


Data are occasionally accessed, or individual teachers take on a role to notice students or request the data and advocate for students.

We Got This!

Data (including test scores, grades, and teacher recommendations) are routinely used to identify students with potential that may not be accessing enrichment opportunities, upper level courses, or college/career pathways.



Research demonstrates that even when performance is controlled, students of color are targeted for enrichment, accelerated programs, and college preparation pathways at a lower rate than their white peers.  This tendency can compound issues of disparity when high potential students miss out on experiences in early grades designed to build readiness for college preparation courses.  School systems must address these tendencies early and often to combat disproportionality. 

Field Story

Janelle Vanasse

When I first served as an administrator of a school with junior high school students, the practice of math placement was solely based on the course completed in sixth grade, and recommendations of the previous teachers.  Students who were in the pull-out accelerated math program in elementary school were placed in junior high accellerated math classes.  The change in this practice started with a simple question- "how come there is no one in this group from xyz neighborhood?".  The disproportionality on race was not noticeable, but once we looked deeper into socio-economic status, there was a clear disparity.  Many of the students who were in the accelerated class, certainly needed to be there, and nearly all were successful.  The interesting comparison was those successful students whose scores were good, but not outliers.  How did they end up in the class?  For the most part, it was a product of their parents advocating and the students being friends with the others in the class.  Several marginalized students had similar or higher test scores.  Might those students also be successful if they were given the opportunity to level up?

We changed the practice of placement by recommendation.  We used the data to identify students who may be able to "level up" if given supports and opportunities.  Advanced math placement no longer was a reflection of parent involvement or socio-economic status.


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Resource List

Contreras (2011) reports that even high performing underrepresented students, including AI/AN, are often advised to take a less rigorous route to post-secondary elements.


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