Seattle Public Schools Cites ‘Equity’ In Shutting Down Gifted Program With Majority White And Asian Students

Seattle Public Schools has closed its gifted and talented program, in which the majority of students are white or Asian. The reason given is “equity”.

After a survey in 2018, which found that only 3,7% of participants were Hispanic, and 1,6% were black, the school board decided to end its Highly Capable Cohort Program by 2020. While 11,8% of students were Asian and the majority white, a 2018 survey found that only 3.7% were Hispanic.

Parent Map reported in 2018 that Kari Hanson is the director of Student Support Services for the district.

Hanson stated, “Clearly we are not identifying children of color. We need to find out why.”


In the 2021-22 academic year, the district started to phase out the gifted program. It will be completely gone by the 2027-2028 school year.

From next year onwards, all schools will use a new model of Highly Capable Neighbourhood School that is “more inclusive”.

The school district stated in a press release that “the program will not disappear, but it is getting better.” It will be inclusive, equitable, and culturally sensitive.

The district stated that “Students who were historically excluded from services will have the same opportunity to receive them as any other student, and they will get the support and enrichment needed to grow.”

The district currently has three elementary, five middle, and three secondary schools that serve students who are part of the Highly Capable Cohort Program.

Teachers will be required to create individualized education plans (IEPs) for each student.

Critics claim that the new model places an unfair burden upon teachers, who lack the time and resources to provide 20-30 students with an individual plan. This is especially true since the district currently faces a deficit of $105 million.

Parents also worry about the new model, which they believe will ignore more advanced students.

Since 2018, the minority representation in the Highly Capable Cohort Program has increased. In 2022-23, 8.2% of the gifted students will be Hispanic and 3.4% black.

About 14% of the students in the district are Hispanic and 15% are black.

After years of criticism, the program is still being replaced.

Rita Green, education chair for the Seattle Chapter NAACP in 2021, has called for the end of Seattle’s gifted programs.

We want to abolish the program. Period. Green stated that the Highly Capable Cohort Program is inherently racist and fundamentally flawed.

The decision of the district comes at a time when gifted programs are being criticized for their lack of equity.

Bill de Blasio, the then Democratic Mayor of New York City in 2021, ordered that all elementary schools stop testing giftedness.