Millions of Gifted Children Overlooked in the U.S.

A report out of Purdue University’s Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute (GER2I), as many as 3.6 million gifted children are being overlooked in U.S. public schools.

Researchers found this number by applying the 10 percent average (of classified gifted students) to the roughly 4 of 10 schools that had identified no gifted students at all. GER2I adjusted the number for the many Latinx, African American, Native American/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students who would have been included if found to be gifted at the same rate as their white and Asian peers.

This report is extremely relevant as some districts are considering proposals to eliminate gifted education completely due to racial discrimination and inequality in gifted programs.

From Hechinger Report’s coverage:

Gentry estimated that two- thirds to three-quarters of gifted African American students are overlooked. “We’re losing talent,” she said.

Gifted students typically get to jump ahead in lessons, take more challenging classes or participate in enrichment activities, such as engineering or drama. As with special education students, gifted children may attend separate programs, or they may receive services in an ordinary classroom. Some bright students who don’t get extra resources do fine on their own but lose the opportunity to, say, take college math in high school, experts at the conference said. However, some get bored, disengage, underperform and even drop out, or are simply never noticed or encouraged.

Most states use federal guidelines to classify giftedness as the following: “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.” This leads to another concern that state rules and oversight for identifying gifted students vary wide, without effectiveness in communicating the parameters.

Read the Report’s Executive Summary.