Turning A Blind Eye: Neglecting the Needs of the Gifted and Talented Through Limited Accountability, Oversight, and Reporting
November 11, 2015

WASHINGTON (November 11, 2015) – Despite some modest gains in how states serve high-ability students and fund such programs, a new report shows that a lack of transparency and consistency in laws, policies, and funding to support these students with extraordinary gifts and talents continue to vary sharply among the states.

According to the State of the States in Gifted Education, a biennial analysis of state laws and policies to support high-ability and high-potential students conducted by the National Association for Gifted Children and the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted, 28 states lack even a single gifted education performance indicator on their annual report cards or other accountability measure. The report covered the 2014 to 2015 school year.

Additionally, 19 states fail to monitor local district programs in this area, 16 do not require districts to submit reports and only 11 produce an annual report on the performance of these students.

“A lack of measurement, oversight, and transparency means that children with gifts and talents will remain hidden in the shadows of our schools,” said M. RENÉ ISLAS, Executive Director of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). “Without national leadership and consistent policy, haphazard and inequitable treatment of the gifted will persist.”

“We need to change this reality by requiring states and districts to report on the key indicators of our high-achieving students, just as we have long required similar reporting for those students on the lower end of the achievement spectrum,” said GEORGE BETTS, President of the NAGC Board.

“Most important, this lack of measurement and oversight deprives parents of valuable information and virtually ensures that most students from families of lesser means will be excluded,” added Islas.

Following are key findings from the State of the States in Gifted Education report and State of the Nation in Gifted Education overview.

Limited Public Accountability

  • 28 states have no gifted education performance indicators on their report cards.
  • 19 states do not monitor or audit local gifted programs, 22 do not require districts to submit their gifted education plans, and only 11 produce an annual report on gifted education services in the state.
  • Only 7 states require school districts to report on gifted student achievement/performance.
  • Fewer than half of the states reporting have at least one employee in their state department of education dedicated full-time to gifted education engaged in important tasks like fielding district or parent inquiries and conducting oversight of districts.
  • Efforts to better identify and serve students from populations historically underrepresented in gifted education are hampered by a lack of data.  Only 20 states report race and ethnicity data for gifted students, and even fewer identify students from low-income settings (12) or are English Language Learners (10).

Barriers to Access & Services

  • Only 12 states have policies that require school districts to accept gifted identification from another district within the same state.
  • 5 states have explicit policies that do not allow their schools to accept gifted education eligibility granted in another state, and nearly 30 states leave such decisions to local school districts.
  • 13 states expressly prohibit students from entering Kindergarten early and 19 states leave such decisions to the local school district.
  • 2 states prohibit students from being dually enrolled in both middle school and high school while 26 leave such decisions to the school districts.
  • 4 states prohibit proficiency-based promotion or the advancement of students by subject, and 14 states leave decisions to school districts.

Teacher Preparation & Training

  • 19 of 29 responding states require teachers in gifted programs to hold a specialized credential or endorsement.
  • Only 10 of 40 states report requiring school districts to have a dedicated gifted and talented administrator.
  • Only 1 state (Nevada) statutorily requires all teachers to receive training in gifted and talented education through a separate course before beginning their classroom service.

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About NAGC The National Association for Gifted Children is a membership organization whose leaders support and develop policies and practices that encourage and respond to the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups. NAGC invests its resources to train teachers, encourage parents, and educate administrators and policy makers on how to develop and support gifted children.  

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CONTACT:  Cathleen Healy, 202-365-4636/chealy@nagc.org