National Public Policy

(from the National Association for Gifted Children website,

The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act was passed in 1988 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It is the only federal program that specifically addresses the needs of gifted and talented children in U.S. schools. The Javits Act does not fund local gifted education programs. The purpose of the Javits Act, which was reauthorized as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 2001 and every year since then, is to orchestrate a coordinated program of scientifically based research, demonstration projects, innovative strategies, and similar activities that build and enhance the ability of elementary and secondary schools to meet the special educational needs of gifted and talented students.

The Javits Act focuses resources on identifying and serving students who are traditionally under-represented in gifted and talented programs, particularly economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient, and disabled students, to help reduce gaps in achievement and to encourage the establishment of equal educational opportunities for all U.S. students.

In 2001, Congress expanded the Javits Act to create a competitive grants program for state agencies and school districts to implement programs that would enhance gifted education offerings statewide.

The Javits program also funds the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, established to provide a forum for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and others to work together to design and conduct research and ensure that it informs educational policy and practice. The Center is located at the University of Connecticut and is run collaboratively with the University of Virginia. The consortium includes over 300 public and private school districts, and a consultant bank of 167 researchers associated with 86 universities throughout the United States and Canada. Research and dissemination efforts associated with the Javits Act have resulted in new information about the effective use and benefits of several instructional strategies including curriculum compacting, instructional grouping, acceleration, and independent study.

The Javits Act uses the federal definition of “gifted and talented students,” which is located in the definitions section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.

Since the passage of the Javits Act in 1988, as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with initial funding of $7.9 million, Congress has appropriated between $3.0 million (1996) and just over $11 million (2002 through 2005) each year to fund programs under the Act. In 2007, $9.6 million was appropriated.