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Why We Should Advocate for Gifted and Talented Students

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Why We Should Advocate for Gifted and Talented Students


Currently, there are approximately three million academically gifted and talented students in the United States; however many are not receiving the support and programs they need to reach their highest potential.  Gifted and talented students need a challenging curriculum and a well-trained teacher who can inspire and motivate them, as well as challenge them to excel.  As community members, we must support our children with rigorous course work and supportive teachers trained to help students prepare for the challenging jobs of tomorrow.  Additionally, the nation needs gifted and talented students to enter certain fields as part of our national and homeland security apparatus.  NAGC has developed a factsheet on the pipeline of talent in math and science.

Gifted Students' Experience in the Classroom

  • Children's academic and artistic gifts and talents must be systematically encouraged and thoughtfully supported to allow them to reach their full potential.

  • A 2008 Fordham Institute report found that, while low-achieiving students have made gains under NCLB, advanced-learners are "lanquishing" and that teachers need to spend the bulk of their time with struggling students even though they know that others in the classroom need attention as well.  Click here to read the report summary.  For the full report, click here.

  • The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) found that many gifted elementary school students already know between 40 and 50% of the material to be covered in the class. Click here for a summary of the study.

  • According to the NRC/GT, most gifted and talented students spend at least 80% of their time in a regular education classroom.

  • According to a 1991 study, between 18 and 25% of gifted and talented students drop out of school. Gifted dropouts were generally from a lower socio-economic status family and had little or no access to extracurricular activities, hobbies, and computers.

Teacher Expertise in Meeting Student Needs

  • Without properly trained teachers, students cannot excel to their highest potential, and often find themselves bored and frustrated in school.

  • According to an NRC/GT study, 61% of classroom teachers did not receive any training in meeting the needs of gifted and talented students.

  • The NRC/GT also found that gifted and talented students experience no instructional or curricular differentiation in 84% of the activities in which they participated. Click here for the summary of the study.

Gifted Education Programs Require Funding

  • Although gifted education programs and services yield increased learning gains for high-ability students, gifted education funding at the state and local levels ebbs and flows with the economy.  14 states allocated less than $500,000 in state funds for gifted programs in 2004-2005.

  • In 2007, .026% of the federal K-12 education budget goes to gifted and talented students.

  • By comparison, 3% of the federal K-12 education budget will go to the Reading First Program, 1.59% to Drug Prevention, 1.10% on Education of Migrant Children and 1.85% to English Language Acquisition.  64% covers the rest of the programs in the No Child Left Behind Act, and nearly 32% will be dedicated to children with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). (Note:  although some states classify gifted students without disabilities in the "special education" category, federal funds from IDEA do no support these programs.)

  • When looking at the estimated federal K-12 budget for FY 2007 in smaller increments, the Javits programs, the only federally funded gifted education initiative, receives just 2.6¢ out of every $100 spent on education. In contrast, Reading First gets $3.10, English Language Acquisition gets $1.85, Migrant Children Education gets $1.10, all other No Child Left Behind programs (in aggregate) receive $64, and IDEA programs will receive nearly $32 per $100 spent.


Javits Program Percentage of Federal Dollars 


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