NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Public High Schools for the Gifted

July 8, 2003

Thousands of new public schools for the gifted have sprouted across the country during the past two decades and more than a dozen states now fund residential high schools for high achievers.

  • New charter-school laws have allowed parents and others to found schools for the gifted and interest is growing.
  • The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities received its highest number of applications ever in 2002.
  • The Charter School of Wilmington, Del., reports that students now travel up to 50 miles each way daily to attend.

Yet the schools remain fairly rare, with the Department of Education reporting in 1993 that 70 percent of elementary schools supposedly catering to the gifted offer only "pull out" classes -- usually offering only 90 minutes a week of puzzles or logic games.

The really top schools zap boredom by accelerating the curriculum several years. Alumni report the thrill of finding friends who "think on their level."

Following the establishment of institutions in New York and Boston, the "gifted school" trend took off in North Carolina in 1978 -- then spread to Arkansas, Indiana and Virginia.

Source: Laura Vanderkam, "The Challenge of Being Gifted," Washington Times, July 8, 2003.


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