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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

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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17089.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17089.

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Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17089
Note: CH ED LS PE
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  1. Joshua D. Angrist & Kevin Lang, 2004. "Does School Integration Generate Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1613-1634, December.
  2. Epple, Dennis & Newlon, Elizabeth & Romano, Richard, 2002. "Ability tracking, school competition, and the distribution of educational benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-48, January.
  3. Alan Barreca & Melanie Guldi & Jason M. Lindo & Glen R. Waddell, 2010. "Running and Jumping Variables in RD Designs," Working Papers 1001, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  4. Laura M. Argys & Daniel I. Rees & Dominic J. Brewer, 1996. "Detracking America's schools: Equity at zero cost?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 623-645.
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