The Status of Programs for High Ability Students

Jeanne H. Purcell

The Program Status Research Study was designed to examine the status of local programs for students with high abilities and the reasons to which educators and key personnel attributed the status of these programs. The study was completed in a purposive sample of 19 states, divided into four groups, according to economic health and the existence or nonexistence of a state mandate to provide program services. Results indicated that programs in states with mandates and in good economic health are “intact” and “expanded,” while programs in all other groups are being “threatened,” “reduced,” and “eliminated” in high numbers. Advocacy efforts were most frequently associated by key personnel with programs that were intact or expanding, and reductions in funding were associated with programs experiencing jeopardy.


Purcell, J. H. (1994). The status of programs for high ability students (CRS94306). Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

The Status of Programs for High Ability Students
Jeanne H. Purcell


  1. Advocacy efforts in states in good economic health with mandates need to be maintained.
  2. Advocacy efforts need to be increased in states in poor economic health and/or where mandates do not exist. Advocacy for high ability students must occur with classroom teachers, building administrators, local board of education members, and legislators and executive officers at the state level.
  3. Advocates for high ability children who want to maintain state mandates need to direct a large proportion of their efforts toward policy makers in the legislative and executive branches of their state government.
  4. Advocates in states without mandates need to direct their efforts toward policy makers.
  5. Decisions to modify or eliminate programs for high achieving students should be based on (a) research and (b) a thorough analysis of the effectiveness of a program at the school and district level. Decisions regarding the status of programs should not be based on trends which may not be supported by research.
  6. Policy makers need to plan and articulate more comprehensive services for children with high abilities.