Students are served through a process that provides a vast array of programming options designed specifically to match identified need. Such programming options vary in design, degree and duration for many different highly able students. Programming components include differentiation, acceleration, and enrichment.
What is Differentiation?
Differentiation takes many forms; it includes any methods and materials that change the educational experience from what is planned for the majority of students. The form that differentiation takes depends on the grade level, the subject area, the knowledge and skills of the students, and the resources available. Some examples are
- A small group of students may read more advanced material in reading class or for a science unit.
- A student may work on an extension project in place of part of a unit that is already mastered.
- A student may complete the most difficult problems in a math assignment first, and if they are correct then move on to more advanced work.
- Students may participate in a book club that meets every 4-6 weeks.
What is Acceleration?
In our district, acceleration usually refers to a student attending a class with older students. Although rare, once in awhile a student will participate in full-grade acceleration. For example, a student may complete first grade in the spring and begin third grade the next fall. More often, students participate in subject acceleration. For example, a fourth grade student may attend a fifth grade math class. Acceleration is used most often in math, and occasionally in reading or English. Acceleration may occur in other areas, more often at the high school level. If there are a large number of students accelerated in an area at a grade level, a section may be set up for them. For example, if there are 20 seventh graders taking eighth grade math, there may be a math class just for those students. This situation can vary widely based on the numbers of students involved.
Typically students who need acceleration pathways exhibit some or all of the following behavioral characteristics:
- receive high test scores/standardized assessments
- demonstrate mastery well beyond current grade level curriculum
- continually seek significantly more complexity in curriculum.
Acceleration occurs through a carefully articulated process that involves assessment, meetings with parents/teachers/student, transition activities, and regular monitoring of student's adjustment. Examples of acceleration are:
- Grade 2 student grade accelerated to grade 3.
- Grade 6 student going to middle school for math.
- Grade 8 student going to high school for Advanced English 9 class.
- Grade 9 student compacting Algebra II into one semester.
- Grade 10 student taking Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry simultaneously.
What is Enrichment?
We usually use the word enrichment to refer to activities in class or out of class that enhance students’ experiences in an area, but that are accessible to many students, not just those with identified talents in an area. Examples of classroom enrichment activities might be choosing a culminating unit project from five options, a trip to a museum or play that relates to a unit of study, or cultural performances brought into the school for all students.
The Pathways Specialists facilitate a variety of enrichment activities. Most are open to all interested students. Some that are competitions are initially open to all and then the most successful students may move on to higher levels of the competition.
Click below for examples of enrichment activities facilitated by Pathways.