Overlooked and Underfunded:
Gifted Students in the Classroom
Every child has the right to learn, but the gifted student’s right to learn is currently being ignored and unsupported.
While our efforts to strive for basic proficiency are compelling, students who are already above the bar are left without recognition or support. While we focus on helping our lowest-performing students achieve the bare minimum, we overlook the students who are capable of achieving the extraordinary. At IEA, we believe that we should strive for more than proficiency for our children.
A profoundly gifted child is as far from the norm as is a child with a developmental or intellectual disability. However, while there is a federal mandate for special education for low ability learners, there is no such mandate for high ability learners.2
Funding for GATE programs in schools is consistently being cut, if provided at all. When programs are offered for gifted students in schools, they often take the form of a weekly pull-out program, providing specialized instruction for only a few hours each week. Roughly $70 billion is allocated to schools each year by the U.S. Department of Education; in 2014, $5 million was designated for gifted education.3
Less than 0.01% of our national education budget being used to support 5-7% of the Kindergarten through 12th grade student population.
The majority of the time, gifted learners are expected to learn at the same pace and in the same way as their age-mates. However, these students are not just capable of learning at a faster pace and in greater depth, they need to.
Without optimal learning environments and challenging curricula, studies indicate that many gifted children underachieve, or even drop out of school.
• Up to 20% of all high school dropouts test in the gifted range. (4)
• 88% of student dropouts were receiving passing grades, but dropped out due to boredom. (5)
• Opportunities for real-world learning in school would have significantly improved students’ chances of graduating from high school. (5)
• 82% of gifted underachieving students reversed their underachievement when they had opportunities for strength-based gifted programming. (6)
• Educational interventions fostering talent development among gifted youth result in remarkable, sustained enhancements in lifetime productivity and achievement. (8)
If our high ability youth aren’t challenged in public schools, they need to find enhanced learning experiences somewhere else. IEA provides those experiences, along with the extra tools and focused attention needed to bolster what students are learning in the classroom, in an environment where gifted children are allowed to fully explore who they are.