Project Bright IDEA: Interest Development Early Abilities
Research Summary – 2001-2014
“Outstanding abilities are present in students from all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor.”

— North Carolina General Assembly, August 1996, Article 9B

Research Problem:

In 2000, North Carolina children from poverty and minority groups were under-represented in gifted programs and over-represented in exceptional children categories and the problem has continued over a period of years.  A commissioned report to the State Board of Education in 2001 by Dr. William Darity and a team of researchers from UNC-CH and Duke offered recommendations that included providing nurturing programs in elementary schools.  A pilot study in five Title 1 schools, 2001-2004, provided significant achievement results that became the basis for applying for a Javits Grant, awarded by US Department from 2004-2009 for $2.5 million for five years.  An extension year was awarded and the Javits Final Report was published in September 2010.

Significant Results of Javits Research Project 2, 2004-2010

Gifted Identification and Placement for 2nd Grade Graduates of Bright IDEA:

Bright IDEA Non-Bright IDEA
Cohort-1 24% 10%
Cohort-2 46% 10%
Cohort-3 15% 10%


Educator Disposition Changes

  1. Responsibility for actively nurturing Gifted Behaviors and Conceptual Learning;
  2. Awareness of link between goal accomplishment and student interests;
  3. Establishment of high expectations for ALL students;
  4. View of giftedness as a function of nurturing in addition to the role of nature;
  5. Increased understanding of the role of meta-cognition in student learning; and
  6. Expressed a wish that they could re-teach former students and questioned why they had not learned these practices in pre-service.

Ron Tzur, Ph.D., Outside Evaluator’s Appraisal of Javits’ Project Bright IDEA 2 Research

Submitted to US Department of Education, Final Report, September 2010:

  1. Capacity to provide top-notch 21st century professional development (PD);
  2. Participants’ high satisfaction with Professional Development;
  3. Improvement of dispositions toward teaching and learning of underachieving students from poverty and minority groups; and
  4. Dramatic and (statistically significant) increase in the number of Bright IDEA graduates  placed in Gifted Programs in 3rd grade.

2014-2019 – Project Bright IDEA 3: Nurturing for a Bright Tomorrow in Wake County Schools – A Javits Education Program Grant was awarded to the REDY Center in September 2014 to scale-up the research to 32 schools.  A random-controlled study will be conducted on 16 treatment schools and 16 control schools.

Overarching Bright IDEA Goal for Scale-Up Districts

Implement a nurturing and talent development model for transforming K-12 instruction and curriculum for all students that provides: 1) Professional Development on best research-based practices and curriculum for teachers, principals and curriculum directors; 2) Concept-based curriculum for all students and 3) Differentiated classrooms that engage students in gifted intelligent behaviors, interests and learning styles to solve problems through performance tasks within interdisciplinary concept-based curriculum units.

Scale-up of schools has continued in some K-5 schools and in one high school in Wake County. The high school had significant turnaround in reducing suspensions, increasing graduation rates and academic scores over a period of time.  The elementary schools have shown significant achievement and growth over the years. Two elementary schools in Brunswick County are model sites for Bright IDEA.