Gifted and Talented magnet programs didn’t improve achievement in reading, math or social studies in a University of Houston study reported in Education Next. Students in gifted programs did learn more science compared to similar students who just missed the the eligibility cut-off or those who qualified but lost a lottery.
Researchers aren’t sure why students didn’t accelerate their already high achievement when placed with high-achieving classmates in a more challenging program. One theory is that students who just made the cut-off were discouraged by going from the top of their old class to near the bottom of their new classes. Another is that high achievers who missed entry into the gifted magnets were able to find high-quality alternatives. The science gains may be a result of better teachers and well-equipped labs.