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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

October 2017


1. What research is available on how to fund the identification of gifted students and gifted education services?

2. Are there any publicly available resources describing state funding formulas for gifted education?


Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for policy scans, research reports, and descriptive studies on how to fund the identification and screening of gifted children and teacher professional development in gifted education services. We also searched for publicly available resources describing state funding formulas for gifted education. For details on the databases and sources, keywords and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. We have not evaluated the quality of references and resources provided in this response, but offer this list to you for your information only.

Research References

1. What research is available on how to fund the identification of gifted students and gifted education services?

Baker, B. D., & Friedman-Nimz, R. (2004). State policies and equal opportunity: The example of gifted education. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 26(1), 39–64.

From the abstract: “This study explores the relationship between state policies, including state mandates and state aid allocations, and the distribution of educational opportunities. Specifically, we analyze the availability of and participation rates in programs for gifted and talented students using data from the Common Core of Data 1993—94 and the Schools and Staffing Survey 1993—94. Analyses herein suggest that program mandates and funding may be effective tools for increasing the distribution of opportunities for gifted children. However, models of both aid distribution and opportunity distribution indicate a tendency of states more significantly involved in gifted education, as indicated by mandates and funding, to promote regressive distributions of opportunities (greater availability in schools with fewer low-income students) through regressive distributions of aid (higher levels of aid to districts with fewer children in poverty). More specific case analyses, however, reveal that some states like Virginia may be taking steps to promote more neutral distributions of opportunities through more progressive allocations of state aid.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Baker, B. D., & McIntire, J. (2003). Evaluating state funding for gifted education programs. Roeper Review, 25(4), 173–179. Retrieved from

From the abstract: “This article provides an overview of state finance polices for gifted education and frameworks for evaluating those policies. The frameworks are then applied for evaluating state school finance policies as of 1998-99 and state aid allocated in 2002. Only Florida provided both sufficient and equitable support for gifted education ”

Beisser, S. R. (2008). Unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind mandates on gifted students. Forum on Public Policy Online, 2008(2). Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Since the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, education policy makers have focused on students at the lower end of the achievement spectrum, specifically those struggling to meet standards, particularly in reading and mathematics. However, those who are considered gifted have been increasingly underserved, at the expense of high ability learners in the United States. When the No Child Left Behind law was enacted in 2001, it forced schools to deeply subsidize the education of students performing below grade level. As result, gifted programs have suffered. For example, Illinois’s gifted and talented programs experienced a $16 million cut and $5 million was eliminated from Michigan’s GT programs. Federal spending declined from $11.3 million to $7.6 million in 2007 alone. This paper will provide historical background on NCLB and gifted education in the United States, funding trends for NCLB and gifted programs, and the impact of this legislation on our nation’s best and brightest students.”

Bhatt, R. (2011). A review of gifted and talented education in the United States. Education Finance and Policy, 6(4), 557–582. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Gifted and talented education programs provide children who have been identified as having high ability in some intellectual or creative characteristic with a supplemental curriculum to their traditional coursework. Despite the popularity of these programs, the literature lacks a comprehensive review of gifted education in the United States. This policy brief aims to fill this void by providing national and state-level statistics on participation rates, funding appropriations, and policies on gifted education. Since many of the operational details of these programs are determined by local education agencies, data on a nationally representative sample of schools are then used to provide information on gifted curricula, instructor training and experience, and the selection process for admission. Finally, a review of the research on gifted education is provided. This research highlights that gifted programs vary widely and that further research on this topic can provide valuable information to policy makers and educators.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Kettler, T., Russell, J., & Puryear, J. S. (2015). Inequitable access to gifted education: Variance in funding and staffing based on locale and contextual school variables. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 38(2), 99–117. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “This study examined discrepancies in educational opportunity for gifted students at the program services level. School districts in the study (N = 1,029) varied in expenditures for gifted education and the allocation of faculty for gifted education. The relationships of variables representing funding and staffing gifted education and school contextual variables such as locale (city, suburban, town, rural) were examined. Pairwise comparisons among locales revealed effect sizes as high as 0.31 with respect to funding and staffing variables. Multiple regression analyses and bivariate correlations were examined to estimate the relative strength of the predictor variables on the funding and staffing variables. Data in this study indicated that locale, school size, and economic disadvantage were the strongest predictors of variance in funding and staffing gifted education programs. Rural schools, small schools, and schools with larger economically disadvantaged populations allocate proportionally less fiscal and human resources to gifted education services. Racial/ethnic diversity, property wealth, and overall expenditures per student accounted for relatively little of the variance in funding and staffing gifted programs.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

National Association for Gifted Children. (2009). State of the nation in gifted education: How states regulate and support programs and services for gifted and talented students. An executive summary of the “State of the States” report, 2008-2009. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “The U.S. is largely neglecting the estimated 3 million academically gifted and talented students who represent diverse experiences, skills, ethnicity, and cultural and economic backgrounds. All of them require a responsive and challenging educational system if they are to achieve to their highest potential. According to the ‘State of the States’ report, there is a markedly insufficient national commitment to gifted and talented children, which, if left unchecked, will ultimately leave our nation ill-prepared to field the next generation of innovators and to compete in the global economy. The federal government’s support for gifted children now stands at only 2 cents of every $100 dollars it invests in K-12 education. At the state level, 26 percent of states provide no funding support to gifted education. In addition, a patchwork system of teacher training, availability of services, and the lack of reporting and accountability has real consequences for high-ability students who may not succeed without specialized and rigorous instruction. The data collected in the ‘State of the States’ survey and highlighted here offers a snapshot of state policies and practices affecting gifted and talented learners in the 2008-2009 school year. Forty-seven (47) states responded to the survey. This paper presents key findings from the report.”

National Association for Gifted Children. (2015). 2014-2015 State of the States in gifted education: Policy and practice data. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

From the report: “The State of the States report is organized into ten key areas that combine to provide readers with a better understanding of the degree of support individual states offered to gifted and talented education for the school year 2014-2015. This is not to say that these ten areas were clearly differentiated in actual practice. There were, in fact, multiple points of overlap and influence among them…The allocation of funding and personnel was a major indicator of state-level commitment to gifted and talented education. Questions in the first section covered the allocation of employees at the state education agency to coordinate gifted education, the range of responsibilities for state agency staff, and the existence of a standing state advisory committee for gifted and talented education. The questions in the second section addressed the amount of state funds allocated to gifted and talented education, along with details of the allocation of those funds, funding formulas, and funding caps.”

Ohio State Legislative Office of Education Oversight. (2003). Identification of gifted students in Ohio. Columbus, OH: Author. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “This report provides statistics on numbers of students in Ohio identified as gifted; examines the effect of a 1999 state law standardizing the identification of gifted students; identifies factors that influence the proportion of students that districts identify as gifted; compares the identification of gifted students in Ohio with other states; and raises the issue of how gifted services are defined and funded. Findings indicate that not all districts have implemented the standardized identification process and that factors contributing to variations among school districts in the percentage of students identified include district socio-economic status, screening vs. referral practices, teacher training, and district progress in implementing identification standards. Comparison with other states finds that Ohio is one of 32 states mandating the identification of gifted students and is one of only 4 of these states that do not mandate services.”

Roberts, J. L., Pereira, N., & Knotts, J. D. (2015). State law and policy related to twice-exceptional learners: Implications for practitioners and policymakers. Gifted Child Today, 38(4), 215–219. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Legislation and policy lead to action. In the absence of law or policy, situations are addressed on a case-by-case basis or they are sometimes ignored. Legislation and policy become extremely important when they relate to groups that have traditionally been marginalized, such as students with disabilities or students with gifts and talents, and they can help guarantee or increase access to services for students from those groups. Because legislation and policy focus on students with disabilities at the federal and state levels, schools usually plan to meet the needs of these students. However, gifted and talented education is not mandated at the federal level, and mandates and funding are limited or nonexistent at the state level. Only recently have twice-exceptional learners been acknowledged in law or policy.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

2. Are there any publicly available resources describing state funding formulas for gifted education?

EdBuild. (2017). Recommendations for improving school funding in Mississippi. Jersey City, NJ: Author. Retrieved from

From the introduction of the report: “On October 11, 2016, the Mississippi legislature engaged EdBuild to review the state’s existing funding formula and make recommendations related to new ways of allocating funds. Since that time, EdBuild has met with students, parents, teachers, and superintendents along with other critical stakeholders in the state… Several themes emerged repeatedly from these meetings, and we attempt to address each in our recommendations. In this report, we attempt to focus narrowly on what will work best for the students of the state, based on stakeholder feedback, our evolving understanding of education in the state, and national best practices.”

Garland, N. S. (2009). Highly capable students: Current programs in Washington and other states. Olympia, WA: Senate Committee Services. Retrieved from

From the introduction of the report: “This report summarizes current Washington laws and rules and funding regarding highly capable programs, provides an overview of programs statewide, and describes selected districts’ current programs. It also summarizes programs for highly capable students nationwide, based on available information regarding definitions, rules, program policies and guidelines, and funding structures for highly capable students.”

Hanover Research. (2016). State funding models for special student populations (preliminary). Arlington, VA: Author. Retrieved from

From the executive summary: “TIn this preliminary report, Hanover Research (Hanover) summarizes trends in state funding models for special student populations. In particular, the analysis explores how student funding formulas in other states allocate funds for vocational/career and technical education (CTE), low-income students, gifted and talented programs, and English Language Learners (ELLs). In addition to details about formula allocations for special student populations, this research reviews the short- and long-term implementation process for new or revised funding models in several states.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

The National Society for the Gifted and Talented –

From the website: “The National Society for the Gifted & Talented (NSGT) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to honor and nurture gifted and talented (G&T) children and youth. It is committed to acknowledging and supporting the needs of G&T children and youth by providing recognition of their significant academic and performance accomplishments and access to educational resources and advanced learning opportunities directly related to their interests and talent areas.

There are approximately three million gifted and talented children in grades K-12 nationwide, of whom only perhaps a quarter have been identified and receive support. Clearly, there is a need to help identify these very able children and assist them in realizing their full potential.

The goal of the NSGT is to provide an organization where increasing members of G&T children and youth are identified and, as members, can expect to find information and opportunities that directly relate to, and cultivate, their abilities and desires to achieve at a high level.”

Note: The NSGT website provides a list of associated organizations –

National Center for Research on Gifted Education –

From the website: “Policymakers, educators, and parents want assurance that the nation’s gifted and talented students receive instruction that is sufficiently challenging and that will allow these students to reach their full potential.

Recent studies of gifted and talented programs indicate that the extent and quality of services available to gifted students varies from state to state, district to district, and even from school to school within school districts. Overall, the field knows little about how gifted and talented programs are implemented in schools, how long students participate and at what level of intensity, and whether these programs are effective in improving students’ academic outcomes. In addition, students of particular racial and ethnic backgrounds (i.e., African American, Hispanic or Latino, and Native American), students from lower income families, and students from small-town or rural communities are disproportionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs. These students are less likely to be identified as gifted and talented in early elementary school, and those who are identified are less likely to have access to or persist in programs or activities for gifted and talented students as they progress through the K-12 system.

With funding authorized through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act, the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (PR/Award #R305C140018) launched the National Center for Research on Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut to address these issues. During the first three years (Phase 1), the Center examined the extent of gifted programming and student participation in three states; identifying districts and schools that showed high achievement growth rates among gifted students, including those from underserved groups; and exploring how these sites successfully identified, served, and retained students from underrepresented groups in gifted programs. The Exploratory Phase 1 work focused on identifying gifted and talented programs that had a strong commitment to identifying and serving students from underrepresented groups and that showed promise for improving student outcomes. In Phase 2 (Year 4 and 5), we are examining gifted students’ mathematics and reading/language arts achievement under different service options. The Center’s work extends over a total of 5 years (approximately 3 years for Phase 1, and 2 years for Phase 2).”

Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program –

From the website: “The purpose of this program is to carry out a coordinated program of evidence-based research, demonstration projects, innovative strategies, and similar activities designed to build and enhance the ability of elementary schools and secondary schools nationwide to identify gifted and talented students and meet their special educational needs. The major emphasis of the program is on serving students traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, particularly economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient (LEP), and disabled students, to help reduce the serious gap in achievement among certain groups of students at the highest levels of achievement.

Grants are awarded under two priorities. Priority One supports initiatives to develop and scale up models serving students who are underrepresented in gifted and talented programs. Priority Two supports state and local efforts to improve services for gifted and talented students.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Gifted and Talented

  • gifted education funding

  • “resource allocation” gifted

  • identification of gifted children

  • funding gifted education

  • “expenditure per student” gifted education

  • state policies gifted education

  • “Special education” and funding

  • funding “gifted education” screening

  • funding “gifted education” “teacher professional development”

  • funding gifted education “teacher professional development”

  • resource allocation gifted education screening

  • resource allocation gifted education “teacher professional development”

  • funding gifted screening

  • funding gifted education screening

  • funding gifted “teacher professional development”

  • funding gifted “professional development”

  • funding gifted education screening

  • “gifted education” “funding formula”

  • STATE NAME + gifted education + funding formula

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and Google.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2002 to present, were include in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Region) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.