Neglected by No Child Left Behind

By 01/19/2011

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A new article by June Kronholz looks at the students who may be least favored by today’s education policies—profoundly gifted students—and at a unique public school set up to serve them.

When the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) surveyed states in 2008 about what they provide in the way of gifted education, June writes, it found the answer to be “not much.” And most schools don’t even try to accommodate gifted learners.

Why? June explains,

We’re uncomfortable with the idea of singling out a few kids for special treatment. Our discomfort rises if those kids are suburban whites who already have access to the best schools and widest opportunities. We assume they will learn by themselves (although research suggests that they don’t)…“We rub our hands about elitism. It’s the single most difficult nut to crack” in gifted education, Tracy Cross, director of William and Mary’s gifted-education center, told me.

At a time when federal education policy is focused on getting all students to proficiency, and budget shortfalls have led to cutbacks in all sorts of special programs, the best and the brightest are mostly left to fend for themselves. But shouldn’t schools be trying to help gifted students reach their potential as well?

In “Challenging the Gifted: Nuclear chemistry and Sartre draw the best and brightest to Reno,” which will appear in the Spring 2011 issue of Ed Next and which is now available online, June takes readers inside a school that allows gifted students to soar: the Davidson Academy, founded by Bob and Jan Davidson with their own money on the campus of the University of Nevada.

The public school is free for all who are admitted, but you have to have an IQ of 145 to apply for admission.

For more information, please see:

A summary of the article in this press release.

An episode of Nightline featuring the Davidson Academy.

Additional photos of the Davidson Academy.

Comment on this article
  • J. Ford says:

    Kudos to June for bringing it up.

    As the mother of two gifted girls, it’s nice to see someone paying attention, rather than just saying, “well, if they’re so bright, let them help the rest of the class.” Or worse yet, shuddering when the word “gifted” is said and making the district use a contrived acronym (ELO stands for “Extended Learning Opportunities,” a far cry from what really happens at our school) as not to seem too “elitist”.

    Yes, all children are a gift… but not every child is gifted, with an IQ well above 145.

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