November 2008
             What's New in Gifted Education Davidson News |  Legislative & Policy News On the WebIn the News EventsIn the Spotlight 
   What's New in Gifted Education
         2008 Davidson Fellows - Award Ceremony in D.C.

         View the Washington, D.C. Photo Gallery
On Sept. 24, 2008, 20 young people were honored at the Davidson Fellows award ceremony for their work in Mathematics, Science, Literature, Technology, Music, Philosophy and the category of Outside the Box. Davidson Institute for Talent Development co-founders, Bob and Jan Davidson, presented the awards at the eighth annual ceremony held at the Library of Congress and sponsored by U.S. Senators Harry Reid (Nev.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa). In recognition of their remarkable achievements, each of the 2008 Davidson Fellows received a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship.

         Intel International Science and Engineering Fair - Scientific Discovery Takes Center Stage
Scientific discovery and innovation will be on display at the 2009 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). Hosted by Gathering Genius, Inc., whose mission is to increase student excellence, competitiveness, and participation in science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM) in Nevada, ISEF will take place in Reno, Nev., May 10-16, 2009. ISEF is the world’s only science, math, and engineering project competition for students working at the high school level. Students have the opportunity to receive scholarship awards, equipment grants, and scientific field trips. Join the event as a judge, interpreter or general volunteer, or donate. View the ISEF website for more information.

         2008-2009 CTY Talent Search Deadline Approaching
The deadline for the annual Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Talent Search is Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. Students in grades 2 through 8 can apply. For 30 years, CTY partnerships with schools have helped gifted students stay motivated and keep skills sharp.

RSI and USABO - Leading the Way in Math and Science Advancement
Recognizing the importance of math, science, engineering and technology in the lives of young, gifted students for more than two decades, the Center for Excellence in Education sponsors the annual Research Science Institute (RSI) and USA Biology Olympiad (USABO). RSI provides approximately 80 high school students from around the world the opportunity to participate in a rigorous, six-week summer academic program, focused on advanced theory and research. The upcoming application deadline for RSI is Jan. 16, 2009. The USABO is one of the top biology competitions in the United States and begins in February with a multiple-choice exam open to all U.S. high school students who have been nominated by their teachers.

   Davidson News
         The Davidson Academy of Nevada
Davidson Academy of NevadaApplications for the 2009-2010 school year are now available! Visit The Davidson Academy How to Apply page to find the Academy application, which consists of three downloadable documents. The Davidson Academy of Nevada is specifically designed to meet the needs of profoundly gifted middle and high school students at the sixth grade level and beyond who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ or college entrance tests, such as the SAT or ACT. Please review the Test Score Criteria page as these scores are mandatory for student eligibility.

A Davidson Academy of Nevada tour for prospective students will take place Friday, Nov. 21, 2008 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Davidson Academy of NevadaLocated in the renovated Jot Travis Building on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, the Academy’s new facility is approximately 30,000 square feet and wireless, including classrooms with smart technology.

If you cannot make this event, mark your calendars for another tour:

  • Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008
  • Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009
  • Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009
  • Thursday, March 26, 2009
RSVPs are required for these tours. Prospective students interested in receiving email updates about the Academy can sign up for the free Explore The Davidson Academy eNewsletter by clicking here to subscribe.

THINK Summer InstituteTHINK Summer Institute
Applications are available for the 2009 THINK Summer Institute, which will run July 11 through August 1. Students can earn up to seven college credits at this three-week residential summer program on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. To qualify, students must be 13 to 16 years old during THINK. The deadline for early acceptance is Jan. 14, 2009. Apply today!

Davidson Fellows2009 Davidson Fellows Scholarship Applications
Applications for the 2009 Davidson Fellows scholarships are available online. Young people under the age of 18 have the opportunity to win a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship in recognition of a significant piece of work in the categories of Science, Technology, Mathematics, Music, Literature and Philosophy, or a project that represents Outside the Box thinking. The application deadline is March 4, 2009.

   Legislative & Policy News

Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act - A “continuing resolution” has been passed to fund Javits for Fiscal Year 2009 at $7.5 million, the same level as the previous fiscal year. While the FY2009 funding will support the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented and demonstration grants, it is not enough to fund statewide grants. Before its passage, some Members of Congress had co-signed a letter seeking $11.25 million for Javits funding; however, this amount was not granted due to an increasingly tight budget. For more, visit the National Association of Gifted Children’s (NAGC) Legislative Update page and the 2008 Javits grantees listing.

No Child Left Behind - NAGC is working on a number of proposals to incorporate into the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. They are seeking a requirement for states to describe how they will use funds “to improve the skills of teachers already in the classroom in instructing gifted and talented students." NAGC also wants to ensure that schools are held accountable for improving the achievement of students performing at the "advanced" level. Visit NAGC’s Legislative Update page to learn more.

The Advanced Placement Incentive Program Grant provides grants to school districts across the country, designed to “increase the participation of low-income students in both pre-AP and AP courses and tests.” Twenty school districts were awarded grants in 2008. Source: U.S. Department of Education

MINNESOTA - A new program in School District 196 is designed to better identify high-potential students who fall through the cracks. The district’s “Young Scholars” program will employ alternate means to help identify these students, collecting data regarding intelligence, creativity and motivation. Source:

NEW JERSEY - A proposed bill that would affect homeschooling laws in the state is causing concern for advocates. Assembly Bill 3123 would increase regulations and state involvement in homeschooling standards and curriculum. The bill would, among other things, empower the Commissioner of Education to implement mandatory subjects and course content guidelines, as well as require parents to keep school records and submit them annually to the school district. Source: Home School Legal Defense Association

Due to a lack of funding, the Governor's School of the Arts will not operate in 2009. It is hoped that this School, which relied on private funding the past two years to compensate being cut from the public budget, may be reinstituted for the summer of 2010. The news was more optimistic for the Governor's School in the Sciences at Drew University, as Drew recently announced they will provide four-year scholarships to graduates of the science program who go on to attend their college. Source: New Jersey Online

NEW YORK - The New York City Department of Education is in the process of identifying sites in Brooklyn and Queens for city-wide elementary gifted programs. Currently, all three elementary school gifted and talented programs are located in Manhattan, which has long caused criticism. The department is also planning to open city-wide programs in the Bronx and Staten Island in 2010. Source: New York Times

OREGON - The Beaverton School District is looking to improve its Talented and Gifted (TAG) program this year through teacher training, planning time and program evaluation. The district decided to revamp its program last year after acknowledging that its teachers did not have enough training or time to assess and instruct TAG students. Source:

PENNSYLVANIA - New regulations for gifted students have been approved. Chapter 16 of The Pennsylvania Code includes new language requiring the Department of Education to conduct on-site monitoring of school districts on a cyclical basis to ensure compliance. The bill also requires the department to establish a process for parents to file complaints and for school districts to respond. Source: Independent Regulatory Review Commission

The Cumberland Valley School District is proposing an outside review of the school district’s gifted program. Read more in The Sentinel Online.

SOUTH CAROLINA - Gifted and talented middle schoolers in Beaufort County public schools will no longer be able to take high school courses and receive high school credit. Source: The Beaufort Gazette

The Florence School District will receive $372,000 in supplemental funding for the gifted and talented program. The funding will be used for instructional activities and student achievement strategies. Source: SC Now

TEXAS - Proposed legislation to standardize the state’s method of calculating Grade Point Average (GPA) is causing controversy among state educators and students. If passed, House Bill 3851 (PDF) would eliminate extra credit for pre-Advanced Placement, pre-International Baccalaureate, and Honors classes for college-track underclassmen. This could dissuade some advanced students from participating in appropriately challenging learning environments. Source:

Davidson Institute Gifted State Policy Map

How gifted-friendly is your state? Find out at: Gifted Education Policies.  
If you know of new legislation, please contact the Communications Team.

   On the Web
         Gifted Exchange Blog
Read Laura Vanderkam's take on all things gifted, with recent posts including:
  • New York City gets it right - City schools recently decided to standardize admissions requirements with the goal of allowing only those who score in the top 10th percentile spots in gifted programs, upsetting some parents and educators. How much of a positive impact has this policy had for gifted students?
  • Some people are naturally good at math - The natural ability to see patterns and draw inferences can make a difference in certain students' lives.

 Join the discussion today!

         Davidson Database – Featured Resources
Enter the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge and become an agent of change! Middle school student teams from across the country will be challenged to create sustainable, reproducible environmental improvements in their local communities.
Gifted Education Press is one of the leading publishers of books and reading materials about educating the gifted. Currently, they are offering a complimentary copy of Gifted Education Press Quarterly Online. Visit the website for details.
The Montclair State University Academically Gifted & Talented Youth Program provides academically gifted and talented students challenging and fulfilling enrichment opportunities.
The Center for Creative Learning offers numerous resources related to creativity, creative problem solving, talent development, and learning styles.
   In the News                                  

Nov. 10, 2008 - Augusta Chronicle, School tries new gifted program (Donnie Fetter)
Nov. 4, 2008 - San Francisco Chronicle, This is talent we can believe in (Joshua Kosman)
Nov. 3, 2008 - Washington Post, Wide Access To AP, IB Isn't Hurting Anybody (Jay Mathews)
Oct. 31, 2008 - New York Times, On an Amazing Journey, and He’s Only 12 (Lary Bloom)
Oct. 29, 2008 -
New York Times, Fewer Children Entering Gifted Programs (Staff)
Oct. 24, 2008 - Washington Post, A Boy Who Can't Make Friends Needs New Ways to Reach Out (Marguerite Kelly)
Oct. 21, 2008 - Columbia Spectator, Public Schools Grapple With Changes in Gifted Programs (Laura Mills)
Oct. 20, 2008 - Muskogee Phoenix, Top pupils need more
(Cathy Spaulding)
Oct. 18, 2008 - WBAL Baltimore, Educators Work To Improve Gifted, Talented Program (Staff)
Oct. 14, 2008 - Washington Post, Gifted students tackle complex math in high school (Valerie Strauss)
Oct. 10, 2008 - The Capital Times, U.S. students steered away from math, study says (Staff)
Oct. 9, 2008 - Orange County Register, How can my bright and brainy child be assessed for giftedness? (C. Veravanich)
Oct. 3, 2008 - Family Talk Magazine, Gifted students need challenges
(Bobbe Taber)
Oct. 2008 - Glenn Gould Foundation, 12-Year Old Pianist Honored for Efforts to Promote Music of Bach (Staff)
Sept. 14, 2008 - CBS News, The ABCs Of Home Schooling (Staff)
Sept. 13, 2008 - Tampa Bay Online, Don't Overlook Gifted Students
(Del Siegle)
Discuss these stories and more on the Gifted Issues Discussion Forum.

   Upcoming Events

California Association for the Gifted - 47th Annual Conference
Over 2,000 educators and parents of gifted children will convene for a variety of curricular workshops and educational presentations at the 47th annual California Association for the Gifted Conference, Feb. 13-15, 2009 in Anaheim, Calif. A number of experts in the field of gifted education will speak at the event.

States with Upcoming Gifted Conferences/Events

New Jersey
For more, see the Events Calendar on the Davidson Gifted Database, your gateway to gifted resources!
   In the Spotlight

Dr. Donna Ford, Vanderbilt University

Throughout her professional career, Donna Y. Ford, Ph.D., has concentrated on a unique perspective pertaining to gifted education - how giftedness relates to minority children and youth, and how to reduce the achievement gap. Dr. Ford’s research focuses on recruiting and retaining culturally diverse students in gifted education, minority student achievement and underachievement, equity issues in testing and assessment, and a number of urban education issues. Her diligence has resulted in numerous honors over the years, most recently her selection as the 2008 National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Scholar of the Year.

Dr. Ford is the former Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University and is currently teaching in the Department of Special Education. Before arriving at Vanderbilt, she was a Professor of Special Education at Ohio State University, an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Virginia, and a researcher with the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Dr. Ford received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Urban Education in 1991 after earning a Masters of Education degree in counseling in 1988 and Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Spanish in 1984 from Cleveland State University.

In a June NPR segment, titled “Facing the Challenges of Growing Up Gifted,” Dr. Ford said that “very few minority students identified as gifted, or at the high school level, participate in AP classes.” She mentions that there are an equal number of gifted and talented African Americans as there are in other groups.

“Each group has individuals at a comparable rate who are gifted,” Ford said. “Too often, African American students are not identified as gifted. We are underrepresented in gifted programs by 50 percent."

In a Vanderbilt University interview, Dr. Ford cites a number of reasons for the achievement gap between students of different races. “At school, lack of rigor is the number one variable - according to research - that contributes to the achievement gap,” she says. “Lack of rigor is fundamentally about teacher expectations. Even if you have solid curriculum on paper, it is when it is actually implemented that really matters. If you are a teacher who has low expectations for students living in poverty or culturally-diverse students, then you will deliver low-quality instruction.”

Dr. Ford also considers “deficit thinking”, the concept that the less we know about a certain group, the more we make up, to be “at the heart of the achievement gap.” To combat this, she works with educators at Vanderbilt and in the community to create “culturally responsive” classrooms, in which both curriculum and the learning environment are suitably multicultural.

In addition to her selection as the NAGC Scholar of the Year, which recognizes “an individual who has made significant contributions to the study of the education of gifted and talented individuals,” Dr. Ford’s efforts have been recognized by a number of other organizations. She received a Research Award from the Shannon Center for Advanced Studies, an NAGC Early Scholar Award, the Career Award from The American Educational Research Association, and many more. She has authored numerous books, including Reversing Underachievement Among Gifted Black Students in 1996. Dr. Ford is a NAGC board member, and has served on the editorial boards of various gifted publications, including Gifted Child Quarterly, Exceptional Children, and Roeper Review.

Through dedication and a commitment to improve the education of underrepresented gifted students, Dr. Ford has made an immeasurable impact in the field of gifted education. It is our hope that her work inspires others to do the same while continuously improving learning environments for students of all groups and backgrounds.

See also:

   Closing Thought

"Every gift and talent comes with some kind of challenge. Parents and educators really need to work with students to make sure these challenges don't hold a child back. Instead, we have to nurture these gifts and talents."

~ Donna Y. Ford, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University  

If you have information to include in future eNews-Updates, please email our Communications Team.
If you have been forwarded this eNews-Update, and wish to receive future editions, sign-up here.

Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Supporting our nation's brightest young minds.

9665 Gateway Drive, Suite B, Reno, Nevada 89521
Phone: 775-852-3483 Fax: 775-852-2184
Email:     Web:
Request a Brochure online.

       Visit the Davidson Institute's eNews-Update archive page on the Davidson Gifted Database.