[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
> [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.]
> By MICHAEL JANOFSKY
> 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
> 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
> 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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