As a society, we care deeply about narrowing achievement gaps and helping students who struggle academically, and this is reflected in education policy conversations. However, academically advanced students are left out of reform discussions. This is clearly communicated through funding: In the $59.8 billion 2015 federal education budget, one dollar was spent on gifted and talented education for every $500,000 spent on everything else.

Broadly, academically talented students are those who score high on standardized tests, which indicates they are ready for an advanced educational curriculum. For example, stories about kids entering college early or inventing something point to the top end of academic talent and academic readiness. In fact, many high achievers and influencers in society were identified as gifted children.

By underfunding gifted education, we are hurting not only US innovation but also the advanced students who most need our help. Despite our best intentions to close gaps, only resource-rich students are challenged because their parents spend the money to ensure their (own child’s) talent is developed. The ones who lose out are the low-income, disadvantaged, and spatially talented students who are not systematically identified or developed and who rely on public funding because their parents cannot afford special programs.

Even if we do not fund gifted education proportionately, we should target more resources toward low-income, disadvantaged, and spatially talented students. That would help level the playing field, would improve the well-being of these students and would be an evidence-based approach to narrow the achievement gaps in academically advanced populations.

The least we can do is help talented students maximize their potential, which will ultimately help society and our nation prosper.

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