BOULDER, CO (December 2, 2021)—A recent Thomas B. Fordham Institute report examines the achievement growth of Ohio’s “early high achievers,” some of whom are identified as gifted and talented (GT). Its conclusion—which was examined in a new review—was that closing the “gifted identification gap” can help to close the “excellence gap.”
Eunice Han and Yongmei Ni of the University of Utah reviewed Ohio’s Lost Einsteins: The Inequitable Outcomes of Early High Achievers. They found that the report’s data limitations and research design did not support a causal inference on the effectiveness of GT identification.
The report tracks the students’ academic performance from fourth grade to enrollment in college. It finds that early high-achieving students who are Black, Hispanic, and low-income tend to perform worse than White, non-disadvantaged peers in various educational outcomes. In addition, Black, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged early high-achieving students are less likely to be identified as GT than their White, Asian/Pacific Islander, and non-disadvantaged peers.
The report then makes a causal inference with insufficient grounding. It finds that GT identification improves the academic performance of early high achievers, especially for Black students and students in high-minority but low-poverty schools. Based on this finding, the report concludes that if economically disadvantaged and minority early high-achievers were identified for GT programs at the same rate as their non-disadvantaged, high-achieving peers, it could decrease the “excellence gaps” in the long run.
This central causal claim is unsubstantiated, given the data limitations and key assumptions in the study’s research design. The report, therefore, is premature in offering its policy recommendations to, for instance, use universal screening for GT services to help early higher achievers “maintain their altitude” and close “excellence gaps” for economically disadvantaged students and students of color.
Find the review, by Eunice Han and Yongmei Ni, at:
Find Ohio’s Lost Einsteins: The Inequitable Outcomes of Early High Achievers, written by Scott Imberman and published by the Fordham Institute, at: