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Why our Nation Needs to Educate our Gifted and Talented Youth

High School

·         The United States can expect to lose well over $300 billion in potential earnings a year due to high school dropouts. If this annual pattern is allowed to continue, more than 12 million students will drop out of school during the next decade at a cost to the nation of more than $3 trillion. (Alliance for Excellent Education; 2009)

·         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; April 2009)  

·         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; April 2009)  

·         If the 1.2 million high school dropouts from the Class of 2008 had earned their diplomas instead of dropping out, the U.S. economy would have seen an additional $319 billion in wages over these students' lifetimes. (Alliance for Excellent Education; 2009)  

·         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; 2008)

Bachelor Degrees

·         The number of students in the United States planning to pursue engineering degrees declined by one-third between 1992 and 2002. (The Business Roundtable; July 2005)

·         In science, mathematics, and engineering-related fields, the United States awarded among the lowest percentages of first university degrees of all the G-8 countries. Sixteen percent of first university degrees in the United States and 17 percent of first university degrees in Canada were awarded in science, mathematics, and engineering-related fields. In the other G-8 countries, the percentages ranged from 20 percent in Japan to 27 percent in Germany. (National Center for Education Statistics, Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries; 2009)

·         Universities in Asian countries now produce eight times as many bachelor’s degrees in engineering as the United States. (National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 cited in The World Is Flat, Release 2.0, Ch. 8, p. 331)

Advanced Degrees

·         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”; October 2005)

·         The United States in 1970 produced more than half of the world’s Ph.D.s. But if patterns continue, it will be lucky to produce 15 percent of the world’s doctorates by 2010. (National Bureau of Economic Research; May 2005)

Workforce/Career Choices

·         About one-third of all jobs in the United States require science or technology competency, but currently only 17 percent of Americans graduate with science or technology majors . . . in China, fully 52 percent of college degrees awarded are in science and technology. (William R. Brody, president of Johns Hopkins University, Congressional testimony; July 2005)  

·         If the United States had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and Korea, U.S. GDP in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher, representing 9 to 16 percent of GDP. (McKinsey & Company, The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools; April 2009)


·         45% of new U.S. patents are granted now to foreigners. (Education Week “A Quiet Crisis is Clouding the Future of R&D”; May 2005)

·         Only three of the top 10 recipients of U.S. patents in 2003 were American companies. (National Academy of Sciences: “Rising Above the Gathering Storm”; October 2005)


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Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Reno, Nevada