October 2006
What's New in Gifted Education |   Legislative News |   On the Web |   In the News |   Upcoming Events |   In the Spotlight 
   2006 Davidson Fellows
The 2005 Davidson Fellows in Washington D.C.On September 27, 2006, 16 young people under the age of 18 were honored at the Davidson Fellows Award Ceremony for their works in Mathematics, Science, Literature and Music. Davidson Institute for Talent Development co-founders Bob and Jan Davidson presented the awards at the sixth 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 2006 Davidson Fellows received a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship.

View the Washington, D.C. Photo Gallery
    What's New in Gifted Education
         Report on the Effectiveness of Homework
According to a recent study by Duke University professor Dr. Harris Cooper, elementary school students do not benefit from excessive homework. Although there is evidence of a “positive influence of homework on achievement”, Dr. Cooper cautions teachers that each student has a “breaking point” and that homework should be limited. The study also found that as students get older, they can handle an increased amount of homework, with high school students’ performance leveling off after two hours per night.
Sources: The Washington Post, The News & Observer, The Contra Costa Times

         Improvements in Gifted Teacher Training
  The University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center and Davidson Institute for Talent Development’s Educators Guild are leading the way in specialty teacher training in gifted education. Taught in part by nationally-renowned professor Dr. Nicholas Colangelo, the Belin-Blank program allows teachers to complete the entire curriculum online without setting foot on campus. Through the Davidson Institute for Talent Development’s Educators Guild program, teachers can take a course at the University of Nevada, Reno campus titled EDS 691: Introduction to Gifted Education – What you must know to affect change, which provides an overview of gifted education and what educators and administrators can do to affect change in their districts.

   Legislative News

FEDERAL - A number of states, including California, Utah and Maine, are considering the possibility that funding for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) may be decreased or lost entirely. Connecticut claims that negotiations have been unfair with regard to the law's implementation. Although their 2005 lawsuit challenging NCLB has been partially dismissed in federal court, Connecticut plans to continue to pursue legal action. Sources: Education Week, Hartford Courant, The New York Times

Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act - Congress completed the first stage of the annual education appropriations process and, once again, funding for the Javits program is in jeopardy according to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have now approved separate versions of the fiscal year 2007 education funding bill. While the House committee allocated zero dollars for the Javits program, the Senate allocated $5.025 million, which is a substantial reduction from the 2006 budget of $9.6 million. The 2007 budget still needs to be given final approval by both the House and Senate. Source: National Association for Gifted Children    

ARIZONA - With the passing of House Bill 2552, an additional $2 million in funding has been allocated to Arizona’s gifted education program. As a result, policy will be strengthened, which will improve gifted programs and services for students across the state. The bill will help support differentiated learning and accelerated education. Source: AZGifted.org

ARKANSAS - Test scores and participation in the Advanced Placement (AP) program have greatly increased this past school year. Administrator for the state's gifted education program, Ann Biggers, credits this increase to a 2003 law that requires the state to pay for AP exams. The law also states that each student must be given the opportunity to enroll in AP science, English, math and social studies courses by the 2008-09 school year. Sources: Arkansas News Bureau, Arkansas Department of Education

CALIFORNIA - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a bill into law that will allow low-income California students to take AP and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams at a much lower cost. Underprivileged high school students can now take an AP exam for $5 (standard cost is $82) and an IB exam for $55. Source: The Daily Californian

FLORIDA - As part of a recent measure signed by Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida students must now declare majors and minors in high school. A spokesperson from the state Department of Education said the plan was to “make high school more like college.” This action is similar to a new program in South Carolina that groups students into “career clusters.” Sources: The New York Times, The News-Press, TCPalm

- After government funds were cut this year from the Governor's School, a number of corporations and private individuals made a series of generous donations to fund the program. Gov. Corzine has expressed doubt about future state assistance; it appears that the Governor’s School will have to rely on private funds or charge tuition. Source: The Star-Ledger

NEW YORK - Seeking to ensure a more standardized and streamlined application process for New York City’s gifted programs, pre-K through 2nd grade students will now be tested in verbal comprehension as well as figural, quantitative and verbal reasoning. Additionally, students must receive an assessment administered by a teacher. The city’s education department enacted this plan to offset criticism about inconsistencies and discrimination in the selection of applicants to gifted programs. Sources: NY1 News, Gothamist

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

   On the Web
        Gifted Exchange blog celebrates one-year anniversary
When Laura Vanderkam started posting for the Gifted Exchange blog one year ago, her goal was to provide interesting and provocative information on all things gifted. One year later, this continually active and growing blog remains a source of debate and interest about gifted children, schooling, parenting and advocacy.
Join the discussion!
      Online public high schools – a growing trend!

The Insight School of Washington is just the latest in a growing number of accredited online high schools across the nation. Insight joins similar programs such as The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), in Ohio, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and The Electronic High School in Utah in providing a free, customized learning experience. The web-based trend is expected to continue in the coming years. Browse more online high schools.
        40 students selected as Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge finalists!
The Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (DCYSC) competition will proclaim the nation’s top three scientists on Oct. 25, following a week of science team challenges for the 40 finalists in Washington, D.C. Eight years ago, Discovery Communications and Science Service launched the competition to nurture the next generation of American scientists while encouraging science excellence among students in grades 5-8 by recognizing those who demonstrate the best leadership, teamwork, communication and scientific problem solving skills.

   In the News                                  

October 2, 2006 - Clackamas Review-Oregon, Guitar Hero (Patrick Sherman)
September 28, 2006 - Newsday, Student's scholarship award is out of this world
(Audrey Dutton)
September 25, 2006 - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Whiz kid, 15, earns coveted Caltech spot
(Aileen Dodd)
September 15, 2006 - The Vancouver Sun (Canada), Nourishing the super kid
(Nicholas Read)
September 12, 2006 - UC Berkeley, Newest whiz kids more than just super-smart
(Yasmin Anwar)
August 30, 2006 - Des Moines Register, Iowa reports rise in schools offering advanced courses
(Lynn Campbell)
August 28, 2006 - WRAL (CBS) Raleigh-Durham, Teen Researcher Attacking Cancer
  (Dr. Allen Mask)
August 28, 2006 - The Sydney Morning Herald, Mozart of math
August 26, 2006 - Massillon Independent, Gifted students can set own pace
(Lori Williams)
August 22, 2006 - Las Vegas Sun, First free school for profoundly gifted students opens in Reno
(Tom Gardner) 

   Upcoming Events

Reaching for Rigor and Relevance, NAGC's 53rd Annual National Convention
On Nov. 1 through Nov. 4, the National Association for Gifted Children will hold its 53rd Annual National Convention. This year’s convention will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina and will feature over 300 sessions for educators, experts, and will also feature a Parent Day.

States with Gifted Conferences/Events in October and November

New Hampshire
Rhode Island
South Carolina
West Virginia
For more, see the Events Calendar on Davidson Gifted Database, your gateway to gifted resources!
   In the Spotlight

Terence Tao
MacArthur Fellow in Mathematics

Throughout his life, Terence Tao’s talent in mathematics has been compared to superior work in other fields, including that of a deft heart surgeon performing delicate surgery, or a leading English language novelist producing the definitive Russian novel. He has been called the “Mozart of Math.” Dr. Julian Stanley, the renowned gifted education expert, once stated that Terence’s mathematical reasoning ability was the greatest he had found in “14 years of intensive research.”

Currently, Tao, who is 31, works at the University of California-Los Angeles as a mathematics professor and mathematician. Last week, he was named a 2006 MacArthur Fellow, an honor given to individuals “who show exceptional merit and promise of continued creative work.” This announcement follows his winning of the Fields Medal in August 2006, which is considered the "Nobel Prize of math" and the highest international award in the field.

Signs of Tao’s giftedness began to surface at a young age, as he quickly learned to read by watching Sesame Street in his home country of Australia. According to his parents, he always preferred alphabets and numbers to toy cars or trains, and he was homeschooled from a young age. After completing a series of math courses before he was 5, Tao took a number of classes designed for older students, and at the age of 7, began taking senior-level math and physics classes.

Tao first received international fame when, at the age of 8, he achieved the highest math SAT score ever for his age by scoring a 760 out of 800. He also became the only person under the age of 13 to ever receive a gold medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad.

When Tao was young, there was no gifted education in Australia. However, his parents and educators realized the need for an individualized curriculum and flexible schedule. One of his early educators, the internationally-known gifted expert, Dr. Miraca Gross, has stated that his early family environment was crucial to his development. Tao’s parents were very supportive and they stressed learning for pleasure.

That passion for learning has continued to this day. "Terence Tao is a mathematician who has developed profound insights into a host of difficult areas," the MacArthur Foundation said. "His work is characterized by breadth and depth, technical brilliance and profound insight, placing him as one of the outstanding mathematicians of his time."  

   Closing Thought

"I think the most important thing for developing an interest in mathematics is to have the ability and the freedom to play with mathematics – to set little challenges for oneself,
to devise little games, and so on."

~ Terence Tao
Cited from International Congress of Mathematics

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