Developing the Gifts and Talents of All America’s Students, NRC/GT—1990-1995

E. Jean Gubbins
David St. Jean
Bruce N. Berube
Joseph S. Renzulli

Five years ago the dream and design for The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) were carefully crafted words on paper. The words provided a vision for theory-driven, practitioner friendly, and empirically sound research that would guide strategies and practices in gifted and talented education. In 1990, the United States Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, awarded a grant to the consortium of The University of Connecticut, The University of Georgia, The University of Virginia, and Yale University. With the grant award under the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act of 1988, two essential priorities were established: (1) identifying and serving students historically overlooked by traditional assessment methods (including economically disadvantaged individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, and individuals with disabilities), and (2) the improvement of schools through cooperative efforts of a variety of educational and private agencies.

The primary mission of the NRC/GT has been to conduct quantitative and qualitative research studies, to commission research-based monographs on critical issues, and to disseminate the resulting information to multiple audiences. We wanted the research to be part of the pedagogy of classroom practices in a timely manner. To accomplish this translation from research findings to classroom practices, we created a network of schools, state departments, national and international consultants, and stakeholders that would have access to research results in multiple media formats. We “spread the word” about the Center’s research to multiple audiences interested in developing the gifts and talents of all America’s students.

The scope of the NRC/GT is described in Part I: Dream and Design for the NRC/GT. Part II: Charting New Directions Based on Research presents a synthesis of the findings and themes across studies and commissioned papers. The findings and themes are categorized by five topics:

  • Characteristics and Identification
  • Special Populations
  • Program Impact, Options, and Outcomes
  • Professional Development
  • Policy, Program Organization, and Management

The Center’s research is placed in the context of the historical and contemporary research and practices in gifted and talented education. Taken together, an extensive body of knowledge about students with high abilities is available to practitioners and researchers. A matrix of the studies by the categories listed above will aid readers in choosing studies for further review. Following this presentation, abstracts and guidelines, recommendations, or conclusions for specific studies are appended.

Implementing new ideas, new strategies, or new programs is not an easy task. Through the research of the NRC/GT, we documented successful techniques of identifying and serving high potential, high risk students. We worked with teachers/researchers in experimenting with new methods that could be adopted to local conditions.

We wanted The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented to break away from past research and programming practices and do things a little differently to ensure the findings reached educators in the classrooms who were in a position to initiate change. Change has taken place in small steps with the collaborative support, communication, and leadership of the university/school partnerships developed and nurtured throughout the country. The NRC/GT has had a very productive five years, and we have already witnessed changes in educational environments based on our research findings.


Gubbins, E. J., St. Jean, D., Berube, B. N. & Renzulli, J. S. (1995). Developing the gifts and talents of all America’s students NRC/GT—1990-1995 (RM95220). Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.