All Learning in District 25
The Illinois Learning Standards for all students are designed to give districts specific concepts and expectations for student learning at each grade level throughout their time with us in kindergarten through eighth grade. Each district, however, is tasked with designing how those concepts and expectations are taught, the length of time to spend on each, and the degree of rigor they represent when considering the makeup of a particular school district.
Thus, the curriculum in a high performing district like Arlington Heights 25 should look different compared to another district where most of its students perform at a different level. We may teach the same main concepts, yet the depth, the time we spend on them, and the level of expectation may be different. We also design the curriculum so that it meets a range of learning abilities, and teachers can adjust instruction in order to meet students’ varying needs. Again, due to the high performance of students across District 25, our core curriculum is already designed at a high level in order to meet the needs of our students.
Districts also design programs and services for students whose needs would be best met in an alternative curriculum. This typically represents a small portion of students and can refer to services that are designed for students who experience the core curriculum as too challenging or for those who are in need of something more advanced.
When it comes to the possibility that a student is demonstrating advanced learning needs in District 25, we have designed a continuum of services we consider when seeking to meet the needs of a particular student. These services are listed below. If parents believe their child’s needs would best be met by one of these services, we always encourage them to first reach out to the child’s classroom teacher for discussion.
Differentiated Instruction in District 25
Differentiated Instruction is a teacher’s first response to a student’s need for something other than the core curriculum. The philosophy of differentiation is guided by the mindset that all students should have the opportunity to grow. Although not a set of strategies, teachers can differentiate instruction by providing students with alternative content, a different learning process, asking students to produce a distinct product, or to learn in a differing environment. Differentiated Instruction takes place according to individual students’ readiness, interests, and needs.
In Arlington Heights District 25, students are typically placed into math at their grade level. Grade level math means students are receiving grade level instruction aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards. Students ready for accelerated instruction at the next grade level are considered for Advanced Math, which begins in fourth-grade. Students in fourth-grade Advanced Math are completing the fifth-grade course, students in fifth-grade Advanced Math are completing the sixth-grade course and so on.
In Arlington Heights District 25, students are typically placed in grade level language arts. Grade level language arts means students are receiving grade level instruction aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards. Students ready for instruction taught at a faster pace and greater depth than that of grade level language arts are placed in Advanced Language Arts. In Arlington Heights District 25 placement in Advanced Language Arts begins in sixth-grade.
District 25 has identified early entrance to kindergarten and early entrance to first grade as whole-grade acceleration, appropriate for those students who are intellectually and socially advanced. To be considered for early entrance, students must demonstrate advanced characteristics in cognitive, academic, functional, and social-emotional domains. District 25 utilizes a systematic process that involves review of records, standardized assessment, and other components for determination. Very few children who complete the process meet the criteria to enter kindergarten or first grade early.
In rare circumstances a student's needs may best be met at the next grade level of instruction or higher in one particular subject area other than in advanced math or advanced language arts. The process for considering a student for single-subject acceleration begins with the student's classroom teacher and Differentiated Instruction. Consideration for single-subject acceleration will be given after October 15th of each school year in order to allow teachers time to understand their students’ needs as learners, complete beginning of the year assessments, progress through the units reviewing the previous grade curriculum and start introducing new content, and begin to identify and provide differentiation opportunities to students. The final date for a student to be considered for single subject acceleration will be March 1st of each school year so that all necessary data collection and discussion can occur before the school year ends.
There are many ways to modify the curriculum for advanced learners - enrichment, cooperative learning, curriculum compacting, differentiated instruction, etc. In rare circumstances a student's needs may best be met at the next grade level or higher in all subjects through whole-grade acceleration or what is commonly known as grade skipping. Because whole-grade acceleration is a complex issue, District 25 uses the established guidelines put forth in the Iowa Acceleration Scale when determining if whole-grade acceleration is most appropriate for a student. The process for considering a student for whole-grade acceleration begins with the student's classroom teacher and Differentiated Instruction. Consideration for whole grade acceleration will be given after October 15th of each school year in order to allow teachers time to understand their students’ needs as learners, complete beginning of the year assessments, progress through the units reviewing the previous grade curriculum, start introducing new content, and begin to identify and provide differentiation opportunities to students. The final date for a student to be considered for whole grade acceleration will be March 1st of each school year so that all necessary data collection and discussion can occur before the school year ends.