TALENT Act:  To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation's Teachers Act  (S.363 & H.R. 2960)     


Provisions from the Talent Act were included in the final version of ESEA. States and districts will be required to do more to support gifted students.  
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Limited federal leadership, coupled with a singular focus on grade-level proficiency, has resulted in an educational system that too often fails to address the unique learning needs of Gifted students and those who could become high achieving with appropriate supports. 

In the 114th Congress (2015) the bipartisan TALENT Act  was reintroduced in the Senate (S.363) by Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Bob Casey (PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and John Boozman (AR) and in the House (H.R. 2960) by Representatives Jared Polis (CO-2) and David Young (IA-3).

Download a summary factsheet on the TALENT Act.

Key Provisions of the TALENT Act

Success in the 21st century requires a commitment to developing the high levels of talent needed in every field. However, on international comparisons, the performance of top students in the United States lags behind other nations. Additionally, few students of color or from poverty in the U.S. are reaching advanced achievement levels.  The failure to support our best students, including those who have the ability to become high achievers, has serious implications for the nation’s future and occurs as the federal focus on remediating low achievement has discouraged schools from meeting these students’ needs. To address this urgent problem, legislation has been introduced to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to meet the needs of gifted students and those with the potential to achieve at high levels. To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers (TALENT) Act has four key emphases:

  • Support Educator Development to Ensure Academic Growth for High-Ability Students 
  • Confront and Address Excellence Gaps
  • Provide Public Transparency of Student Achievement Data
  • Continue Research and Dissemination on Best Practices in Gifted Education

The TALENT Act provides common sense, no-cost strategies to change America’s talent trajectory and regain our role as an international leader in education. Far too many students are not achieving to their potential, with every state reporting wide “Excellence Gaps,” the achievement gap at the top levels of achievement between low income and their more affluent peers and between minority students and white students. For example, in 2011 while 10.9% of White 8th grade students scored at the advanced level on the NAEP math exam, only 1.5% of Black and 2.7% of Hispanic students did so.  For low-income students, 1.8% of 4th graders eligible for free/reduced lunch scored at the advanced level on the NAEP math exam compared to 11.4% of non-eligible students.  The TALENT Act addresses the persistent challenges that impede school districts from providing appropriate services to high-ability students.






TALENT Act Solution

The majority of teachers are not trained to recognize high ability and adjust instruction to work with high-ability and gifted students.
  • Support professional development through Title II based on a local analysis of existing excellence gaps and steps to close the gap.   
  • Require grant recipients to use funds to ensure that principals, teachers, and pupil service personnel have the training to supporting identification and services for gifted students, including high-ability students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and other high-ability students who have not been formally identified as gifted.
  • Enhance the Rural Education Achievement Program to include gifted education as an allowable professional learning topic.
Access to gifted education is inequitable, often only available to students in more affluent areas, which results in an underrepresentation of African American and Hispanic students.1
  • States and district Title I plans include the steps they will take to assist local schools districts in supporting gifted students, including high-ability students who have not been formally identified as gifted.
  • Districts describe how their Title I schools will identify and serve gifted and talented students, including high-ability students who have not been formally identified as gifted.
  •  Enhance the Rural Education Achievement Program to allow funds to support rural gifted and talented students through professional development for teachers.

High ability and high achieving students are not maximizing their potential in part because education policy ignores them.2

  • States provide greater transparency of achievement data to families and the public by including information about how students perform at every level of achievement (not just proficient), disaggregated by subgroup, on the state report cards.
  • The Secretary of Education reports to Congress and the public how the states and districts are taking steps to close their excellence gaps.
Districts and schools lack evidence-based strategies to support high ability and gifted students.

Direct the Institute for Education Sciences to

  • Continue research and development activities on gifted students; 
  • Administer demonstration grants that build and enhance the ability of school personnel to support gifted and talented students; and 
  • Disseminate evidence-based best practices to improve the identification and instruction of gifted students. 

Increase STEM Opportunities for high achieving students.

Increase the number of students from low income families and other groups underrepresented in STEM fields by

  • Selecting students to participate in the federal STEM education programs in the America COMPETES law based on achievement. 
  • Encouraging school districts to provide AP/IB coursework when the student is academically able, even if that is earlier than is typical.


1 U.S. Office for Civil Rights. (2012). The transformed civil rights data collection (CRDC (p 9)). Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/crdc-2012-data-summary.pdf

2 Xiang, Y., Dahlin, M., Cronin, J., Theaker, T., & Durant, S. (2011).  Do high flyers maintain their altitude?  Performance trends of top performers.  Retrieved from http://www.edexcellence.net/publications/high-flyers.html


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