To receive future editions of the Davidson Institute's eNews-Update, sign up here.

Davidson Institute September 2012

             What's New in Gifted Education | Davidson News | Legislative & Policy News | On the Web | In the News | In the Spotlight
   What's New in Gifted Education
  Announcing the 2012 Davidson Fellows
Davidson FellowsMeet the 2012 Davidson Fellows! Davidson Fellows have completed graduate-level projects/portfolios that have the potential to benefit society. Each will receive a scholarship and be recognized for their achievements at a special awards reception, sponsored by U.S. Senators Harry Reid (NV) and Chuck Grassley (IA), in Washington, D.C.

2013 Davidson Fellows Scholarship Applications
The Davidson Institute offers $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000 scholarships to students whose projects have the potential to benefit society, and are equivalent to college graduate level with a depth of knowledge in a particular area of study. Category requirements for the 2013 Davidson Fellows scholarships are now available.

New Book About Public Schools for High Achievers
Exam SchoolsWhat is the best education for exceptionally able and high-achieving youngsters? Can the United States strengthen its future intellectual leadership, economic vitality, and scientific prowess without sacrificing equal opportunity? A new book from Princeton University Press seeks to answer these questions. Exam Schools: Inside America's Most Selective Public High Schools, co-authored by Chester Finn and Jessica Hockett, identifies 165 academically selective public high schools across America serving more than 100,000 high-ability students each year. Exam Schools is the first-ever, close-up look at this small yet crucial segment of American public education presenting how these schools work and their critical role in nurturing our country's brightest students. The Davidson Academy of Nevada was one the schools that submitted data for the book. Finn recently wrote about the book in the New York Times op-ed, "Young, Gifted and Neglected."

New Program for Rural Gifted Students
Johns HopkinsRural Connections, a new three-year initiative of Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, works to support bright 7th and 9th graders from families living in rural communities nationwide. Students selected for the program will receive a full scholarship to attend a CTY Summer Program, support to help them choose a course, supplemental academic advising, and peer support following the program. The Rural Connections initiative meets the particular needs of gifted rural students, including identification, access to challenging courses, connections with intellectual peers and role models, and support for their college and career goals. Source: Education Week

   Davidson News
  The Davidson AcademyThe Davidson Academy of Nevada
The Davidson Academy of Nevada application for the 2013-2014 school year is now available. Visit the How to Apply page to download the application PDF files. If you are looking for an environment to better fit your social and academic needs, The Davidson Academy may be the place for you!

The Academy is specifically designed to meet the needs of profoundly gifted middle and high school students who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ or college entrance tests, such as the SAT or ACT. Please review the recently updated Qualification Criteria page of our website as these scores are mandatory for student eligibility. On the Application Review Process page, you will find detailed information about the on-site assessment.

Prospective students interested in receiving email updates about the Academy can subscribe to The Davidson Academy eNewsletter by clicking here.

Upcoming Tours for Prospective Students
Each month during the school year, The Davidson Academy hosts a tour for prospective students and their parents. At these tours, visitors meet current Academy students, parents, faculty and staff, and ask specific questions about the school. Our upcoming school tours will be held on the following Fridays: Sept. 28,
Oct. 19, Nov. 30 and Dec. 14. RSVPs are required. For additional details and to RSVP, please visit the Tours page.

EXPLORE Test to be offered at The Davidson Academy in October
The Davidson AcademyIn conjunction with the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS), The Davidson Academy will serve as a test site for the two-hour EXPLORE® test on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. The EXPLORE® test, developed by ACT for eighth graders, is an effective above-level test for younger students (grades 4-6), and provides the opportunity to demonstrate their advanced abilities. An EXPLORE® test score can be used in the context of eligibility criteria for the Davidson Young Scholars program as well as The Davidson Academy. The goal of BESTS is to discover students who need further educational challenge to fully realize their academic talent. The deadline to register is Friday, Oct. 5.

Davidson Young ScholarsDavidson Young Scholars
The Davidson Young Scholars program provides FREE services designed to nurture and support profoundly gifted young people and their families, including talent development and educational advocacy, an online community, annual get-togethers, and the Ambassador Program. Applications are due the first of each month. For more information, see the How to Apply and Qualification Criteria pages.

Educators GuildEducators Guild
The Davidson Institute's Educators Guild is a FREE national service for active elementary, secondary and post-secondary educators, as well as other professionals who are committed to meeting the unique academic needs of gifted students. You can become a member of this online community with access to free consulting services and Educators Guild publications by subscribing here. There is also an Educators Guild discussion group on Facebook - join today!

Gifted Issues Discussion Forum
Gifted IssuesThe Gifted Issues Discussion Forum is a meeting place for all things gifted. Register and become a part of one of the most active gifted education forums on the web! With more than 5,900 registered members, it's a great place to share and interact with others about a wealth of gifted topics

   Legislative & Policy News
  NATIONAL – While there are currently no plans to restore funding for the Javits Gifted & Talented Students Education Act, the Senate Committee on Appropriations recently approved a fiscal year 2013 education spending bill instructing the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), the Department of Education’s research arm, to support research and development to support gifted students’ learning needs and improve their academic achievement. Although the new language would not create a dedicated funding stream for gifted education research, it could result in additional grants being awarded across IES research priorities that support gifted and talented students. For more information, see NAGC's Legislative Update page.

ARIZONA – This year, the Paradise Valley Unified School District is offering what is believed to be the first preschools for gifted students in the state. Source:

CALIFORNIA – With many public schools reducing programming and funding for gifted education over the last few years, a growing number of private startup schools in the Palo Alto area are offering gifted programming supporting a broader definition of "gifted." The broader definition accommodates characteristics such as reasoning, attention span, moral sensitivity and social/emotional needs. Source: Palo Alto Online
Gifted Legislation
FLORIDA – Recently passed legislation affects statewide policies on acceleration, early high school graduation, dual enrollment and more. One provision of House Bill 7059 (PDF) calls for the state to “establish options that provide academically challenging curriculum or accelerated instruction” for students in grades K-12. Source: Florida Department of Education (PDF)

MAINE – To help identify gifted and talented students, School Union 93 is planning to assess every student multiple times by using curriculum-based screening tools, and requesting input from teachers and parents. Source: The Weekly Packet

MINNESOTA – A recent change in policy will allow highly gifted 4-year-olds in the Rochester school district to attend kindergarten, provided they pass a series of tests that measure academic ability, and social and emotional preparedness. Sources: Post-Bulletin,

NEW JERSEY – The Rutgers Gifted Education Graduate Certificate Program will be available to K-12 educators at the Atlantic Cape Community College campus in Mays Landing for the first time starting in January 2013. Source: Rutgers Today

NEW YORK – A Queens parochial school is changing from its traditional K-8 model to become one geared towards gifted and talented students. The Lutheran School of Flushing & Bayside is attempting to draw students who tested into New York City’s gifted and talented program but were not awarded one of the increasingly scarce and highly coveted public school spots. Sources: TimesLedger, New York Daily News

Speyer Legacy School, on the Upper West Side of New York City, will open a new middle school for gifted and talented students with an inaugural sixth grade class of 20 to 22 students. Source: DNAinfo

OHIO – For the first time since the 2003-2004 school year, Bexley City Schools is conducting a full review of their Gifted and Talented Program, which will determine if current practices align with statewide gifted laws. Source: ThisWeekNews

TEXAS – Beginning this year, gifted and talented students in the Midland Independent School District will have the opportunity to receive college credit for a business course, Independent Studies in GT Mathematics, through Midland College. Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram

The RAM Foundation recently donated $30,000 to the Waxahachie Independent School District’s Gifted and Talented program. Source: Waxahachie Daily Light

Davidson Institute Gifted State Policy Map

How gifted-friendly is your state? Find out on the Davidson Gifted Database State Policy Map.  
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. One of her recent posts is, "Testing prep and gifted education." Join the discussion today!

Davidson Gifted DatabaseFeatured Articles and Resources
The Davidson Gifted Database at is a gateway to resources for and about gifted students. See what's new!

Academic Acceleration: Is It Right for My Child? is an article that covers a number of topics related to acceleration. It also provides parents advice on how to advocate for acceleration if they feel it is a good fit.

The Twice-Exceptional Newsletter is "the only publication aimed squarely at the intersection of giftedness and learning challenges." The current issue includes the article, "Living with Sensory Processing Issues: A First-hand Account'" and more!

The article, Tips for Parents: Real World Parenting - How to Practice Effective Discipline, Nurture Creativity and Resilience, and Still Like Each Other!, is from a seminar hosted by Cheryl Erwin. She provides a number of tips and tools on disciplining students to positive results.

The article, Social Networking - Impacting the World of Gifted Education, provides an ever-growing list of gifted organizations and advocates on social networking sites, as well as links to gifted advocacy blogs and other online publications. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are allowing parents, students and gifted education advocates to communicate and access information like never before.

Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults is a book published by Great Potential Press that describes the overexcitabilities of gifted students, as well as strategies for dealing with children and adults who experience them.

The North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) is a contest in which high-school students solve linguistic puzzles. In solving the problems, students learn about the diversity and consistency of language, while exercising logic skills.

Suggest a Resource             Suggest an Article 

   In the News
September 17 - Orange County Register, O.C. high school grad, 18, wins $50,000 scholarship (Scott Martindale)
September 15 - New York Times, Forgoing College to Pursue Dreams (Caitlin Kelly)
September 15 - The Reporter Online, North Penn student wins $25,000 Davidson fellowship (Linda Stein)
September 13 - Christian Science Monitor, Clara Schumann: Five ingredients for a child prodigy (Eoin O'Carroll)
September 13 - Education Week Teacher, Unexpected Journey (Tamara Fisher)
September 12 - Tips from the T-List, How to Homeschool Through Travel With a Gifted Child (Staff)
September 10 - Huffington Post, Amazing 5-Year-Old Piano Prodigy Astounds Us With His Performance (H. Sekoff)
September/October 2012 - Bethesda Magazine, The Gifted: Left Behind? (Julie Rasicot)
September 2012 - Bethesda Magazine, Can’t Find a School for Your Gifted Child? Start Your Own (Julie Rasicot)
August 30 - Scientific American, Are assessments of scientific intelligence biased toward math fields? (A. Jogalekar)
August 23 - CNN, The joys and challenges of raising a gifted child (Chandra Moseley)
August 22 - Voice of America, Child Prodigy Finds College Admittance Elusive (Matthew Hilburn)
August 17 - Your Houston News, Gifted 13-year-old youngest ever to enroll in accelerated college program (R. Vanya)
August 2 - Education Week News, Algebra-for-All Policy Harmed High-Achievers, Study Finds (Erik Robelen)
July 31 - Education Week Teacher, Theory and Practice of Identifying Students for Gifted Education (Tamara Fisher)

Discuss these stories and more on the Gifted Issues Discussion Forum.

   In the Spotlight

 Sara Volz
A 2012 Davidson Fellow Laureate Making a Difference

In the SpotlightWhat kind of impact can your Davidson Fellows project have on society?
My Fellows project, "Enhancing Algae Biofuels: Investigation of the Environmental and Enzymatic Factors Effecting Algal Lipid Synthesis,” seeks to improve the feasibility of algae biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels. Finding a sustainable, non-petroleum fuel option is important for reasons ranging from environmental preservation to national security and economic stability. Biodiesels already exist which can work in any diesel engine, but algae is a more plausible oil source than current land crops, like soybeans or corn. Algae grows rapidly and densely with generally higher oil content than traditional crops. It uses non-arable land, meaning it doesn’t detract from food production. Plus, algae have high carbon dioxide sequestration rates, meaning their growth can reduce the impact of carbon emissions.

However, for algae biofuel to become widely practicable, oil yields need to be higher. My work is a biochemical study of oil metabolism to increase algal lipid yields. I studied an enzyme involved in algae oil synthesis, with the hope of eventually helping to make algae become a truly green solution.

What are some of your short-term and long-term plans?
In the short term, I am continuing work on improving algal oil yields using artificial selection as a novel method for inducing lipid synthesis. I am currently applying to college where, in the long term, I intend to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry or a related field. Eventually, I would like to become a professor teaching and pursuing interesting, beneficial research at an academic institution.

Please describe your academic setting and some positive experiences with mentors.
I attend a public high school which is academically strong, but does not have the resources or the experience to support independent research projects. Thus, I have had to search for connections and support from other people and institutions for my science interests. I actually do most of my algae experimentation in a home laboratory I’ve set up, but I definitely benefit from scientists who let me into their labs for analytical work. It was daunting as a 13-year-old to ask researchers for help and equipment for a specific technique, but over time, I have found amazing, supportive researchers.

Currently, I stay in touch with a professor and a doctoral candidate from Colorado State University who have given me advice and support for pursuing my own project for two years now. The professor’s lab is more than two hours from my home and he has a very busy schedule, but even so, he has made time for me to come there and allowed me to conduct important analyses that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible for me. Closer to home is the U.S. Air Force Academy - for the last year, some researchers there have also made it possible for me to conduct more algae experimentation, as well as doing some very interesting work in analytical chemistry.

   Closing Thought

"It’s time to end the bias against gifted and talented education and quit assuming that every school must be all things to all students, a simplistic formula that ends up neglecting all sorts of girls and boys . . . America should have a thousand or more high schools for able students, not 165, and elementary and middle schools that spot and prepare their future pupils."

~ Chester E. Finn, Jr., in The New York Times op-ed, Young, Gifted and Neglected


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.

       To subscribe, visit the Davidson Institute's eNews-Update archive page on the Davidson Gifted Database.

  DITD Facebook   DITD Twitter   DITD YouTube
     "Like" the Davidson Institute on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
The Davidson Institute also has a number of YouTube videos!