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IES Grant

Title: Evaluation of Gifted and Talented Program Practices and Student Outcomes
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Goldhaber, Dan Awardee: American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Program: Improving Education Systems      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2018 - 06/30/2022) Award Amount: $1,307,778
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A180082

Co-Principal Investigator: Backes, Benjamin; Cowan, James

Purpose: Research on how best to meet the needs of gifted and talented (GT) students is limited. In states where gifted programming is mandated, schools implement a wide variety of strategies and instructional approaches to accelerate the standard school curriculum and/or provide enriched learning opportunities for advanced students. This project will use data from Washington State (approximately 1 million students in 300 districts) to examine the association between GT program features, classroom resources, and student outcomes.

Project Activities: The researchers will survey all district GT coordinators in the state to capture GT program features and will combine these data with state administrative datasets to assess the relationship between GT program features and short- and long-term student outcomes. The researchers will also examine mediators and moderators of the relationship, and will give special attention to factors that contribute to the success of minorities and low-income students, who have historically been underrepresented in GT programs.

Products: The researchers will produce preliminary evidence of potentially promising gifted education program features, peer-reviewed publications, and a research brief.

Structured Abstract

Setting: All K-12 public schools in Washington state (including urban, suburban, and rural).

Sample: Approximately 1 million K-12 public school students (about 60,000, or 5.8%, of whom are identified as gifted) in approximately 300 school districts.

Malleable Factors: The researchers will examine malleable program features such as classroom structure, student groupings, and resource availability.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will link data collected through district surveys to existing state datasets to address the following questions:

  1. How do the education resources available to GT students differ from those available to high-achieving, non-GT students?
  2. How do differences in resources vary by the structure of GT programming?
  3. How do differences in resources vary for underserved populations?
  4. How does participation in GT programs influence students' short- and long-term academic and behavioral outcomes?
  5. How do participation effects vary by GT programming structure and for underserved student populations?
  6. Do changes in classroom resources for GT and non-GT students explain observed effects of participation on student outcomes?

Control Condition: The estimation strategy will compare the measured performance of students in GT programs to similar, high-achieving students who do not participate in these programs.

Key Measures: The researchers will measure program variables (e.g., assessments and other information used to identify gifted students, GT program focus (e.g., math) and structure (e.g. part- or full-time ability grouping), policies surrounding GT teacher staffing and training; resource variables (e.g., peer achievement, teacher quality, access to advanced courses); and student outcome variables (e.g., standardized test scores, attendance, grades, high school graduation, and college enrollment). They will also use student demographic data to examine results by subgroups.

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will use a variety of value-added regressions to examine the short- and long-term effects of GT participation as well as mediators/moderators of GT effects.