New Evidence That Gifted Black Students Are Teased by Their Peers for “Acting White”

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have found that gifted black students in K-12 education often underachieve in order to avoid the tag of “acting white.” Donna Y. Ford, Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt and lead author of the study, says that “part of the achievement gap, particularly for gifted black students, is due to the poor image these students have of themselves as learners.”

More than 60 percent of the gifted black students surveyed for the study said they knew black students who had been teased by their peers for doing well in school. More than 40 percent had been teased themselves. Most of the black students surveyed believe that doing well in school was important to their future success, but many admitted that their behavior in the classroom did not always mirror their beliefs.

The study was published in the March issue of Urban Education.