In 2006, the Davidson Academy of Nevada opened as the first free public school of its kind for profoundly gifted middle and high school students. Unlike traditional school settings, the Academy’s classes do not group students by age but by ability.
To attend the Davidson Academy, students must score in the 99.9th percentile on accepted intelligence and/or achievement tests; perform at a required academic level; exhibit intellectual and academic achievement; demonstrate motivation, social and emotional maturity, and an overall readiness for a fast-paced educational environment; and are, or intend to be, residents of Nevada. Profoundly gifted students are three standard deviations above the norm on the bell curve, so they are at the extreme end of the intelligence, or IQ, continuum. Families have moved to Reno to attend the Academy from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, Wyoming and Australia.
Located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, Davidson Academy students attend middle and high school classes at the Academy and may access university courses or advanced studies under a dual enrollment agreement. Students learn in a unique educational setting where the abilities, strengths, and interests of highly intelligent young people are encouraged and supported. While grade levels are not designated, Davidson Academy students must meet and/or exceed high school graduation requirements defined by the state of Nevada, as well as participate in state testing to document Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). Academy courses are taught by licensed teachers and university instructors. Academy students may access university professors as mentors in areas of interest.
While at the Davidson Academy, each student participates in developing and implementing a Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) that serves as a roadmap for academic and personal goals, as well as future opportunities. PLPs are optimally matched to each student’s skill and ability level. In each PLP, subject areas can include language and literature, mathematics, science, history, foreign languages, health and physical education, and the arts. Extracurricular activities include a social activism club, an online newspaper, a chess club, a slam poetry club, yearbook and Student Council.
In addition to the support of the state of Nevada, the Davidson Academy enjoys the support of the University of Nevada, Reno, which recognizes the exceptional learning needs of profoundly gifted students.