[Paleopsych] NYT: Some New Help for the Extremely Gifted

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Sat Oct 29 15:51:49 UTC 2005

Frank, you know that teachers have the lowest IQs of any college 
graduate group. Where will they find a teacher who can respond to 
Misha's questions? You would have to sidestep the teacher certification 
process and entice a Ph.D. in physics or something similar to come into 
the school, wouldn't you?  Perhaps the Davidsons will have U Reno 
faculty come in to actually teach the classes (can they do that?).

Anyway, fascinating report. Thanks, Frank.


Premise Checker wrote:

> Some New Help for the Extremely Gifted 
> http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/education/26gifted.html
> [Again, my big beef with the No Child Left Behind Act is not that it 
> is wasteful and utopian, for this is no different from other programs, 
> but that it requires States to have develop uniform curricula for 
> gifted, bright, bright normal, normal, dull normal, morons, imbeciles, 
> and idiots alike.]
>    RENO, Nev. - Misha Raffiee is 10 years old. An eighth grader in her
>    final year of private school here, she reads up to six books a month,
>    plays violin and piano and asks so many questions that her teachers
>    sometimes get angry at her.
>    Driven by an insatiable curiosity, she wants to be a brain surgeon.
>    Her parents expect her to have a bachelor's degree by the time she is
>    14 and a medical degree soon after. The pace will be wholly dependent
>    upon her teachers' abilities to feed an intellect that in her current
>    setting often goes wanting.
>    "I do wish they would go faster," she said of her classroom
>    activities. "If I could go at my own pace, I could go forward twice as
>    fast."
>    By next fall, Misha may have her chance. She has applied to the
>    Davidson Academy of Nevada, a newly formed public school at the
>    University of Nevada, Reno for profoundly gifted children, those whose
>    test scores and evaluations place them in the 99.9th percentile.
>    It is a rare opportunity. Children like Misha, who have I.Q.'s of 160
>    and above, constitute only a tiny fraction of the 72 million children
>    who attend the nation's public and private schools. Their needs are
>    often overlooked as federal and state governments concentrate their
>    resources on slower learners to lift test scores in reading and
>    mathematics to a minimum standard.
>    While federal spending for the Bush administration's education law, No
>    Child Left Behind, is to reach $24.4 billion in the current fiscal
>    year, the Department of Education has allocated only $11 million for
>    programs aimed at "gifted and talented" students. Recognizing that
>    children with unusually high aptitude require special attention and
>    more rigorous coursework, many communities try to serve them through
>    schools that offer specialized classes, accelerated learning programs
>    and dual credit for high school and college.
>    In addition, a small but growing number of charter, magnet and
>    early-entrance schools are tailoring their curriculums to prepare
>    students for college. And foundations, like the Institute for
>    Educational Advancement in South Pasadena, Calif., are forming to help
>    gifted children find programs to challenge them.
>    Susan Aspey, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said the
>    "vast majority" of federal spending for children in kindergarten
>    through 12th grade was for the neediest children. Why so little money
>    for the brightest children?
>    "Unfortunately," she said, "we don't live in a perfect world with
>    infinite resources."
>    Education experts familiar with the needs of the most gifted students
>    say there are scarcely enough programs to serve them.
>    "We are undercutting the research and development people of this
>    nation," said Joseph S. Renzulli, director of the National Research
>    Center on the Gifted and Talented, at the University of Connecticut.
>    "No one would ever argue against No Child Left Behind, but when you
>    ignore kids who will create new jobs, new therapies and new medicines,
>    we're selling them down the river."
>    Nancy Green, executive director of the National Association for Gifted
>    Children, said that state and local efforts were admirable but that
>    their inconsistency reflected lost opportunities. A new survey by her
>    association found that among 39 states that responded, 24 spent as
>    much as $10 million on programs for gifted children but 7 spent less
>    than $1 million and 8 spent nothing.
>    "For a nation, I'm not sure why we value equity over excellence," Ms.
>    Green said. "All kids are entitled to an appropriate education for
>    their ability, not just those we're teaching to a minimum standard."
>    A 2004 report by the International Center for Gifted Education and
>    Talent Development at the University of Iowa charges American schools
>    with impeding the development of the country's brightest children and
>    calls the lack of more programs for them "a national scandal." It
>    warns, "The price may be the slow but steady erosion of American
>    excellence."
>    The Davidson Academy would be an unusual addition to the options
>    available to especially smart children, according to its founders, Bob
>    and Jan Davidson, a retired couple who made a fortune designing
>    educational software. In 1999, they created a foundation dedicated to
>    serving highly gifted children and, as part of it, a summer
>    scholarship program that enables students aged 12 to 15 to earn up to
>    seven college credits at the University of Nevada, Reno.
>    Mr. Davidson said the academy, an outgrowth of the summer program, was
>    the nation's first public school for gifted students created by a
>    private foundation and codified by state law. In June, Gov. Kenny C.
>    Guinn signed a bill that authorized public schools for "profoundly
>    gifted pupils" to operate in a university setting.
>    "Our families in the summer program started asking us to start a
>    school," Ms. Davidson said. "We told them that we were not interested
>    in raising their children. But they told us that if we built a school,
>    they would come."
>    With plans to accept 30 applicants for the first year and twice that
>    for the second, the academy will be open to any students living in
>    Nevada who can perform at a sixth-grade level or better and can
>    demonstrate exceptional abilities through achievement tests and
>    letters of recommendation. Already, Mr. Davidson said, applications
>    have arrived from students in California and the East Coast whose
>    parents said they would be willing to move to Nevada.
>    The curriculum is intended to be flexible, Mr. Davidson said, to
>    satisfy the individual needs and interests of each student. Some
>    courses will be available for dual credit in high school and college;
>    some, for just college credit. Students will also have a choice of
>    taking courses in the usual manner of 15 weeks or in an immersion
>    format of 3 weeks. In either case, students will be invited to
>    specialize, but they must also take classes, like history and civics,
>    that are required for a public high school diploma in Nevada.
>    The Davidsons said they intended to cover all student costs - a
>    minimum of $10,000 a student each year - except for those courses
>    taken only for college credit. They are also assuming some of the
>    construction costs of a $50 million building where the academy will
>    eventually be housed. The state has agreed to pay $31 million of the
>    construction costs.
>    For Misha's parents, Kambiz, an associate dean at the university, and
>    his wife, Simi, a former bank economist, the academy could not have
>    come along at a more opportune time. They have watched their child in
>    wonderment - "She was reading at 2, reading chapter books at 3," her
>    mother said - and worried how to keep her stimulated next year.
>    Misha seemed overjoyed at the prospect of attending a challenging
>    school near home. She can keep her friends, continue swimming with her
>    community team and remain as violinist and associate concert master
>    with the Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra.
>    "It would be a lot better if it started this year," she said of the
>    academy. "A lot of times now, I ask three and four questions that are
>    really complex, and the teacher stops and says, 'We're not getting
>    into that; let's go on to another subject.' At the academy, I know I
>    could ask whatever I wanted and the teacher wouldn't get mad."
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