Seattle Public Schools ends gifted students program because it was not inclusive

According to figures provided by local media, more than half of the students who participated in the program are white and only 3.4% are black.

Seattle public schools will be left without a program for gifted students. The decision was announced by city administrators, who believe the current system for students with special needs is inequitable and racist.

Seattle Public Schools authorities announced a new system that does not contemplate the creation of special groups for those students who stand out from others due to their abilities. Instead, they will implement a new system starting in 2027 that is more "inclusive, equitable and sensitive to cultural differences."

The program for "highly capable" students was in the crosshairs of administrators because, according to The Seattle Times, it was unrepresentative of the ethnic diversity of the city. According to the data in the report, in the 2022-2023 school year, 52% of the students in the program were white, another 16% were Asian and only 3.4% were black.

Students identified as suitable for the program were placed in classes with children of similar abilities, and in these groups, teachers were able to work in a way that was much more adapted to the level of the class to realize their full potential.

In the Seattle Times report, a mother recounts her son's chaos. "It was a real lifesaver," Katie McAllister told the local publication. Her son began developing advanced language skills at just 18 months old and learned to read at just 4 years old. For these reasons, he was redirected to one of the groups for special abilities available in the city's public school system. According to his mother, because of his ADHD, this special attention was ideal for him.

According to The Seattle Times, with the new program, called the Highly Capable Neighborhood School Model, teachers will have to develop individualized learning programs for their around 30 students. However, they will not receive additional aid or resources.