control groups to determine the impact of interventions designed for children identified as gifted on children who have not been so identified.

SCHOOL SOCIAL, CULTURAL, AND CONTEXTUAL ISSUES INFLUENCING ACHIEVEMENT AND BEHAVIOR

Children in the high-incidence special education categories with which we are concerned1 rarely come to school with a disability determination. They are referred to special education only after they have failed to achieve within the general classroom. Similarly, gifted and talented students are generally identified only after they have excelled in the school context. Special education or gifted and talented identification takes place in the context of performance in general education. While children come to schools with very different characteristics and levels of preparedness, how well any child meets the demands of schooling will be determined both by that child and by the school context itself. Several of the contributors to school context that have been shown to influence classroom achievement and behavior are implicated in observed racial differences.

Among the committees findings are the following:

  • Financial resources are on average lower in schools with greater numbers of children who live in poverty.

  • Because more minority children live in families with incomes below the poverty level, the lower resource schools generally have greater numbers of minority children.

  • Teacher quality, as measured by years of teaching experience, education, and certification, influences student achievement and student behavioral problems. Minority children are more likely to be taught by unlicensed teachers and teachers with less experience.

While there has been a debate regarding the role of financial resources in achievement outcomes, the evidence reviewed leads the committee to conclude that resources can, and often do, have an impact. In particular, greater resources are required for reductions in class size, which have been shown in some cases to improve the academic achievement of students in early grades, with larger gains for disadvantaged minority students. Resources can also allow for improved salaries and teaching conditions for teachers, which in turn would be expected to raise the level of teacher

1  

They do not include the speech and language category in which many young children are identified in preschool years.



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