In response to questions frequently asked by parents during public tours and discussion forums, the Davidson Academy faculty and administration compiled this series of presentations:
These presentations contain many details that would be of interest to anyone considering the Academy, including information about the admissions process, graduation requirements, and how the curriculum is developed and maintained.
The primary focus of the Davidson Academy’s curriculum is for Academy graduates to leave with a solid, broad-based foundation of knowledge. Unlike many traditional school settings, the Academy’s classes are not grouped by age-based grades but by ability level. Assessments are used to initially place students into appropriate levels and concrete academic benchmarks help staff guide them to more advanced classes when ready.
The Academy offers two types of credit, middle school and high school. Given the asynchronous nature of highly gifted young people, students frequently utilize both levels of curriculum simultaneously.
There are a number of objectives that are integrated across both levels to help ensure that students leave with a solid foundation of knowledge. These include:
- All levels follow a core curriculum, based in English, math, history, foreign language and science, to fulfill Academy graduation requirements.
Classes are taught at an advanced level with high expectations.
- Emphasis is placed on critical thinking across all subjects.
- The Academy is a “writing-across-the-curriculum” school. Writing is integrated into all classes, regardless of the subject matter.
Middle School Curriculum
At the Davidson Academy's Reno school, the middle school curriculum is structured around high school level material taught using middle school teaching methods. Teachers’ expectations take into account the social, emotional and developmental needs of students at this level. An advanced curriculum based on core courses is taught in a manner that incorporates age-appropriate methods as younger Academy students are typically in these courses. This includes course materials being broken into smaller units for teaching and testing purposes and more flexible due dates. Since middle school transcripts are impermanent and do not follow students after graduation, middle school is an opportune time for students to acclimate to the demands of a highly rigorous curriculum.
High School Curriculum
High School core curriculum at the Academy is not structured around a traditional high school program, but instead based on college-level course work. Teachers utilize age and developmentally appropriate teaching methods, especially in early high school classes. These techniques include multiple opportunities to earn points toward final grades in a class and assisting students with written expression across the curriculum such that they may engage in college level material in a manner appropriate to secondary students.
If a student exhausts classes offered at the Davidson Academy's Reno school in one or more subjects, they may have the option to enroll in courses at the University of Nevada, Reno. The decision to enroll in University courses is based on current Academy class offerings and a student’s graduation requirements, and takes into account input from the student, their parents, the curriculum director and academic advisors. Students are enrolled in the University as Honor Students, giving them access to some smaller-sized courses and early registration.
Davidson Academy - Course List
Davidson Academy - Semester Advising Form (PDF)