Working with Elected Officials

Education issues are complex and are administered and funded at different levels of government. Therefore, familiarizing yourself with who makes decisions, when those decisions are made, and how to communicate effectively with elected officials are all important for successful advocacy.

The federal government plays a small role in gifted education policies and funding. Decisions are made at the state level, which then requires localities to follow the state’s guidelines on identification and programming or allows localities to make independent decisions about gifted education. Each state and, in some states, each district or school will have differing policies and practices related to advanced learners

Who Makes the Decisions about Gifted and Talented Students?


  • States have the largest stake in and responsibility for K-12 public education.
  • States finance approximately 42 percent of all education spending.
  • States make the greater part of the policy decisions on gifted and talented education including the amount of discretion the districts have in identifying and serving advanced students, policies that support gifted students in the classroom, and whether to provide state funding to local districts to provide services.

Learn more about advocating at the state level.

View state-by-state gifted education data. 


  • Local school districts finance approximately 37 percent of all education spending.  
  • In most cases elected school boards build the school budget, make curricular decisions, and typically hire the superintendent
  • Some states specify what districts must do for gifted learners.
  • Some states leave key decisions about gifted and talented education to districts.
  • Other school districts make decisions about gifted education in the absence of state law, policy, or funding.


  • The federal government has a reduced, but important role in K-12 education, including influencing decisions about accountability for student learning.  Its share of total education spending in the U.S. is approximately -12 percent.
  • There is very limited federal support specifically for gifted and talented students.  
  • The sole federal program dedicated to these students is the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act, which funds the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented as well as research-based demonstration grants and statewide grants to help identify and support underserved gifted learners.
  • Federal support for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs along with grants that support advanced teacher training in math and science can help support state and local efforts on behalf of gifted students.

Learn more about federal level advocacy.

Read about NAGC’s legislative initiatives to increase federal support for gifted students. 

Explore how to best communicate with your elected officials