Gifted Education Research

The Jefferson Association for Gifted Children (JAGC) has produced some excellent briefing papers to support parent decision making, district policy choices, and state level advocacy. These include an overview of different approaches to educating gifted elementary students (e.g., center/accelerated schools, cluster grouping with differentiated instruction, and neighborhood schools), a short summary of the considerable overlap between gifted and STEM education, and this review of advanced learning options (and the trade-offs between them) including AP, IB, dual enrollment, and online courses.

Here is Hechinger's take on the rigor of AP and IB courses. And this new issue brief from the Fordham Foundation analyzes how the introduction of the Common Core Standards will affect the nation's gifted students. It is well worth a read.

We also found this working paper quite an interesting read, particularly its conclusion that there is a tipping point in schools, beyond which adding more GT students results in academic performance declines. Definitely worth a read for GT parents.

Here and here are two new summaries of 100 years of research on GT students.

AEI has an excellent new report out on why it is critical to America’s economy that we fully develop the potential of our most academically gifted students. The number of studies in this area continues to increase. Here is one on how the most talent rich companies are increasing their productivity at a much faster rate than their competitors. Here is one on how the top 5% of students (in terms of cognitive capacity) will play a much larger role in the emerging knowledge-driven economy. Here and here are two more articles on this theme.

The ACT Organization has published a good report on the benefits of dual enrollment. And here is a new report from the US Department of Education’s “What Works Clearinghouse on the effectiveness of dual enrollment.

And here and here are two more good research papers on the effects of dual enrollment courses.

And here is a good discussion on the ensuring the quality of Dual Enrollment courses that was recently published by the Education Commission of the States.

This is a great story about a GT student who took full advantage of dual enrollment and graduated from college before he graduated from high school.

Two other excellent pieces of GT research are "A Nation Deceived" (which is about acceleration, Volume 1, Volume 2, and a recent update), and "Closing America's High Achievement Gap."

Here is another summary of the research on accelerating gifted students. The conclusion is clear: It works. The real question is why so many educators in K12 still resist doing it.

Chester Finn has published quite a skeptical article on "differentiated instruction", which is well worth your time to read. Here is another, that concludes that while differentiation may make sense in theory, in practice too few teachers can implement it. Both echo issues raised by JAGC about this approach in the report on different approaches to educating gifted students. Other writers who have also criticized the efficacy of differentiated instruction include Mike Petrilli and Jim Delisle. On the other hand, here is yet another report (this one published in 2015) on how gifted students benefit from acceleration, not just in the short-term, but also into college and beyond. And here is another on the benefits of acceleration and ability grouping.

That more K12 school systems don't make greater use of acceleration is nothing short of a scandal that will penalize our GT kids all their lives.

Chester Finn has also written these excellent articles on "Ending Our Neglect of Gifted Children" , "Punishing Achievement in Our Schools”, and “Gifted, Talented, and Underserved.”

JAGC has also done quantitative analysis to test the assertion made by some that Colorado over identifies gifted students. As you can see from this analysis, this assertion is false. In fact, it is much more likely that Colorado under identifies gifted students, and that a disproportionate number of overlooked gifted children are at-risk students.

This report looks at how No Child Left Behind's emphasis on helping low achieving students has worsened the situation for our most talented students. And here is another piece of research that shows how too many GT kids who do well early in K12 "fall out of the lead" over time -- our guess is because they are not sufficiently challenged, get bored, and check out. If you want to read a very sobering piece about the consequences of neglecting our gifted students, try this: "How Some of America's Most Gifted Kids Wind Up in Prison." Or this one: "How GT Programs are Failing Our Kids."

Similar to these are this article on how students from America's educated and affluent families lag behind similar students from other countries on the OECD PISA tests, and this one on how well America is educating its most talented students.

This neglect of gifted children’s education may also have long term consequences for economic growth, to which GT kids will likely make a disproportionate contribution in the future, as noted in this paper, and in this one. Chester Finn and Brandon Wright have just published a new book on gifted education: "Failing Our Brightest Kids: The Global Challenge of Educating High Ability Students." Here is an excerpt.

Here's NPR on Chester Finn's new book -- and how businesses and the economy are likely to suffer as a result of the neglect of GT education. Not that it's much better in Australia, as this article describes.

This new piece of research confirms what many of us have likely seen during our careers -- in the absence of strong emotional and social skills, high IQ can be a detriment rather than an advantage. This drives home a point we have heard time and time again -- the emotional and social component (or "non-cognitive skills" if you will) of K12 GT programming is CRITICAL. If our schools neglect it, too many of our GT kids will pay a heavy price. Of course, this begs the questions of just what are the distinctive emotional and social issues that GT children face, and what interventions are effective at addressing them. A recent talk by Susan Jackson, a recognized expert in this area directly addressed this issue. Here are some notes from her presentation.

Also see this article, on the challenges faced by GT students when they enter the work force. The experiences of GT adults, both at work and more generally in life, is another interesting emerging theme. Here and here are two new articles on this issue, and here is a critical one on how GT students and adults can have an elevated risk of depression.

Here is a fascinating article about how many students in America are performing above grade level — and how under out current accountability systems, their needs are essentially invisible to schools, districts, and states.