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Laws, access, equity, and missingness across the country by locale, Title I school status, and race

Much has been written about underrepresentation by income and race in gifted education during the past 40 years. Additional literature exists concerning gifted students in locales including city, suburban, town, and rural school settings. Sadly, little has changed. This report seeks to refine what is known about underrepresentation in gifted education by conducting more detailed
analyses than have previously been done. Because of inequity in identification and services, many scholars and practitioners outside the field of gifted education raise concerns about racism, classism, and elitism within the field. Other scholars in the field of gifted education work to understand and solve inequity and some continue to defend inequity as it exists.

This project investigated laws, access, equity, and missingness related to gifted education identification as reported biennially to the federal government Office of Civil Rights by all public schools in 2000, 2011–2012, 2013–14, and 2015–16. Specifically, we examined these areas nationally, and by state across schools for Non-Title I and Title I schools, by Locale (i.e., City, Suburb, Town, Rural), and by Race (i.e., American Indian/Alaska Native American Alaska Native [AIAN]; Asian; Black; Latinx; Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander [NHPI]; Two or More Races [TMR]; and White)


Most states have laws concerning gifted education (N=38); however, laws vary widely with some only having language requiring identification (N=7) but not services, and some requiring identification and services (N=30). Of those 30 states, 6 have no funding and 4 are fully funded. Of the remaining 13 states with no laws, 11 have language, with 4 of those having partial funding. Only 2 states have no language, mandate, or funding.


Access is defined as attending a school that identifies youth with gifts and talents. Nationally, in 2015–2016 67.38% of students had such access and these students attended 55.58% of schools in the country. This is a decrease from 2000 of 6% and 4%, respectively.


Equity in gifted identification was examined using representation indices (RI), which are simply the percentage of a group identified as gifted divided by its percentage in the general population. Equity is defined as having an RI of at least 0.80. A RI of 1.00 indicates perfect proportional representation. We refer to RIs greater than 1.00 as “well-represented” rather than “over-represented.”


An area not found in previous reports that demonstrates gifted identification trends is missingness. We define missingness as students who could/should have been identified, based
on the percentages identified in each state on average (lower boundary) and at the higher rate of identification in Non-Title I schools (upper boundary). Missing students come from two sources: Schools in which students have no access to identification (schools that do not identify students) and schools in which some groups of students are underidentified.

Read the full executive summary >

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