NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Is Gifted Education a Bright Idea? Assessing the Impact of Gifted and Talented Programs on Achievement

Sa A. Bui, Steven G. Craig, Scott A. Imberman

NBER Working Paper No. 17089
Issued in May 2011
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   LS   PE

In this paper we determine how the receipt of gifted and talented (GT) services affects student outcomes. We identify the causal relationship by exploiting a discontinuity in eligibility requirements and find that for students on the margin there is no discernable impact on achievement even though peers improve substantially. We then use randomized lotteries to examine the impact of attending a GT magnet program relative to GT programs in other schools and find that, despite being exposed to higher quality teachers and peers that are one standard deviation higher achieving, only science achievement improves. We argue that these results are consistent with an invidious comparison model of peer effects offsetting other benefits. Evidence of large reductions in course grades and rank relative to peers in both regression discontinuity and lottery models are consistent with this explanation.

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A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w17089

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17089

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