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Teacher and Principal Diversity and the Representation of Students of Color in Gifted Programs: Evidence from National Data

Students of color are significantly underrepresented in gifted programs relative to their White peers. Drawing on political science research suggesting that public organizations more equitably distribute policy outputs when service providers share characteristics with their client populations, we investigate whether representation of students of color in gifted programs is higher in schools with racially/ethnically diverse teachers and principals. In a nationally representative sample of elementary schools created by merging two waves of data from the Civil Rights Data Collection and the Schools and Staffing Survey, we find that schools with larger numbers of Black teachers or a Black principal have greater representation of Black students in gifted programs. We find a similar relationship for Hispanic teachers and representation of Hispanic students. Further evidence suggests that a critical mass of teachers of color is necessary for teacher race/ethnicity to be associated with higher representation of students of color in gifted programs.