National Statistics - Why our Nation Needs to Educate our Gifted and Talented Youth
Davidson Institute for Talent Development

This article contains a number of statistics highlighting the importance of gifted education in America. Startling statistics range from the lack of American degrees in engineering to the percentage of high school dropouts that test in the gifted range.

  • In 2011, research showed that just 32% of 8th graders in the United States were proficient in mathematics, placing the U.S. 32nd when ranked among the participating international jurisdictions. (Education Next)
  • Research shows that 25% of gifted people are underachievers, and they quit trying because nothing they do leads to any measurable success or satisfaction. (adapted from The Gifted Kids Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook)
  • As recently as 1995 America was tied for first in college graduation rates; by 2006 this ranking had dropped to 14th. (McKinsey & Company, The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America ’s Schools)
  • The United States has among the smallest proportion of 15-year-olds performing at the highest levels of proficiency in math. Korea, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, and the Czech Republic have at least five times the proportion of top performers as the United States. (McKinsey & Company, The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools)
  • Four-fifths (81%) of teachers believe that “our advanced students need special attention – they are the future leaders of this country, and their talents will enable us to compete in a global economy.” (High Achieving Students in the Era of NCLB)
  • Nearly one million students who start high school every year don't make it to graduation. At a time when federal and state budgets are tight, dropouts cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue, healthcare, welfare and incarceration costs. (
  • Only 11 percent of bachelor’s degrees in the United States are in the sciences or engineering, compared with 23 percent in the rest of the world and 50 percent in China. (National Summit on Competitiveness)
  • China graduates about 500,000 engineers per year, while India produces 200,000 and the United States turns out a mere 70,000. (National Academy of Sciences: “Rising Above the Gathering Storm”)
  • 45% of new U.S. patents are granted to foreigners. (Education Week “A Quiet Crisis is Clouding the Future of R&D”)
  • American students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading compared to students in 27 industrialized countries. (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)
  • Out of the national graduation rate of 79%, only 56% of students graduate from college within six years of entrance. (National Center for Education Statistics)
  • 88% of high school dropouts had passing grades, but dropped out due to boredom. (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: “The Silent Epidemic”)

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