Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act

The Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act (Javits) was originally passed by Congress in 1988 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to support the development of talent in U.S. schools.  The Javits Act, which is the only federal program dedicated specifically to gifted and talented students, does not fund local gifted education programs.  The purpose of the Act is to orchestrate a coordinated program of scientifically based research, demonstration projects, innovative strategies, and similar activities that build and enhance the ability of elementary and secondary schools to meet the special educational needs of gifted and talented students.  

The Javits Act focuses resources on identifying and serving students who are traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, particularly economically disadvantaged, limited-English proficient, and disabled students, to help reduce gaps in achievement and to encourage the establishment of equal educational opportunities for all students.

The Javits program has three primary components:
  1. the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, which provides a forum for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and others to work together to design and conduct research and ensure that it informs educational policy and practice;
  2. competitive demonstration grants to institutions of higher education and state and local education agencies to develop and expand models serving students who are underrepresented in gifted and talented programs; and
  3. since 2001, there are competitive grants to state agencies and school districts to implement programs that would enhance gifted education offerings statewide.  However, overall funding for the program must exceed $7.5 million before state grants are awarded. 

The Javits Act uses the federal definition of "gifted and talented students," which is located in the definitions section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.

The U.S. Department of Education administers the Javits program, and maintains a program website.

The Javits program, like other authorized programs,  must be funded each year by the Congress.   Advocates scored a huge victory when the Javits Act received $5 million for fiscal year 2014. Thanks in large part to Senate Appropriations Committee chair Barbara Mikulksi (MD), this is the first time since FY2011 that the Javits program has received any funding.

The next step in the process will be for the U.S. Department of Education to develop guidelines for the grants made with these new funds. 

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