Ask anyone who No Child Left Behind benefits. The children who would be left behind, of course. The controversial (and finally fading out) policy was always focused on boosting students who did not flourish on their own or with the support of typical education methods. It was and still is entirely focused on helping every single student over a standardized minimum level of proficiency.

No Child Left Behind, even in its death throes and proven inefficiency, was funded in 2014 to the tune of over $14 billion and hosts over a dozen separate programs. The single federal program focusing on gifted students in the same period only had $9 million to spend.

Parents and teachers have protested this since the 80s, only to be accused of elitism. After all, why should students who have less to struggle against receive any aid when there’s not enough to go around? But the nationally poor test scores of American students should answer that. Gifted students in US schools are not pushed to discover their potential, and the nation is falling behind its fellows because of this. Even for the talented, excellence takes work and support.

Students in gifted programs are often likely to reach college and falter badly, having never had to learn study techniques. They are more likely to report neglect from teachers whose time is taken up by those in need of more elementary support. A gifted student, for example, might spend an entire year sitting in the hallway just reading above their grade level while their classmates are given the basics of literary analysis and composition, under the misguided perception that they don’t need those basics. Just because they’ve passed a certain level of reading comprehension.

Among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, US students rank 17th in reading, 20th in science, and a dismal 27th in mathematics. Fewer than 10% of our youth show a solid grasp of math literacy. This is no fault in our students. It is a fault in our education. We need to raise the bar and push everyone over it, until lowering it until no one can miss.