Donna Y. Ford, Ph.D., is Professor of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. She teaches in the Department of Special Education. Professor Ford conducts research primarily in gifted education and multicultural/urban education. Specifically, her work focuses on: (1) recruiting and retaining culturally diverse students in gifted education; (2) multicultural and urban education; (3) minority student achievement and underachievement; and (4) family involvement. She consults with school districts and educational organizations in the areas of gifted education and multicultural/urban education. Dr. Ford is the author of Reversing Underachievement Among Gifted Black Students (1996) and co-author of Multicultural Gifted Education (1999), In search of the dream: Designing schools and classrooms that work for high potential students from diverse cultural backgrounds (2004), and Teaching culturally diverse gifted students. Dr. Ford, is co-founder of the Scholar Identity Institute for Black Males with Dr. Gilman Whiting. Donna is a returning board member of the National Association for Gifted Children, and has served on numerous editorial boards, such as Gifted Child Quarterly, Exceptional Children, Journal of Negro Education, and Roeper Review.
According to virtually every report and study focusing on the achievement gap between Black and White students, Black students are under-performing in school settings compared to their White counterparts. Of the more than 16,000 school districts in the U.S., few (if any) can report that no achievement gap exists, that the achievement gap is marginal, or that the gap has been narrowed or closed. Nationally, there is the average of a four-year gap in which Black students at the age of 17 perform at the level of a 13-year old White student. Of course, and sadly so, this gap is greater than four years in some states and school districts. Also sad and pathetic is the reality that, while the gap is evident when students start school, it is roughly a one-year gap in the early years; however, during the educational process, the gap increases or widens! The achievement gap exists because of home and school variables, with schools playing a significant role.