A recent study examined whether gifted programs benefit students at the margin: those who barely “made the cut” for admission into a program and those who barely missed it. The study found that students in both subsets performed approximately equally on standardized tests a couple years after demarcation.
Obviously, this study says nothing about those students who easily “made the cut”—those who are the most gifted. (Other research indicates that these highest achievers do benefit from being around similarly gifted peers.) Instead, the research only looked at whether gifted programs are beneficial to students at the margin. And the answer is actually a somewhat-counterintuitive maybe: gifted programs might be beneficial for students on both sides of the margin. (I explain this below.)
Subsequently, a couple news outlets reported that the findings of this study proved that gifted education programs were ineffective:
“If the gifted and talented programs are effective, then the marginal students should end up with higher test scores than the marginal students in regular classes. If they’re not effective, then both sets of students would have around the same scores.” The Atlantic
“A new study has shown that gifted and talented programs have no effect on student learning.” Teach for America Blog
Fortunately for gifted programs, these absolute statements are inaccurate. It implies that a lack of difference in scores proves the ineffectiveness of gifted programs. That the study concluded that students on both...