Madison Schools Elementary Parents and Guardians,
In keeping with the district mission of ensuring that all students flourish in their learning environment, I am writing to you today to share the outcome of our efforts to reevaluate our enrichment and acceleration services for students who demonstrate early mastery of grade-level learning standards.
“Enrichment” is defined as an opportunity for students to engage in deeper learning within the grade-level standards. Enrichment is best provided by the classroom teachers through integrated differentiation activities. For example, a student that demonstrates early mastery of a concept may be provided with structured extension activities that allow them to apply their advanced understandings to highly rigorous tasks while their peers continue to develop foundational skills.
“Acceleration” is an opportunity for those unique learners for whom enrichment opportunities within the general education classroom are insufficient to meet their exceptional learning needs. When performance data and teacher observation suggest that a student may not be appropriately challenged in the regular classroom, even with additional enrichment available, acceleration may be recommended so that students can move fully ahead to the next year’s curriculum. As this process involves leaving their regular classroom and “skipping” large portions of standards-based instruction, acceleration is only advisable for learners with the greatest need for challenge. Further, our educators must be confident that the student’s demonstrated resilience, motivation and curiosity will enable them to rapidly acquire any prerequisite concepts that are necessary before engaging in the next year’s content.
Enrichment opportunities are currently available for all elementary students
Classroom teachers are already providing enrichment and extension opportunities to elementary students that demonstrate early mastery of the learning standards. Any parents with concerns that their child is not appropriately challenged in class should speak to their classroom teacher regarding additional enrichment opportunities within the regular classroom. For further consultation, the parent may reach out to the building principal and/or Assistant Superintendent Dan Ross.
Processes are in place to ensure that elementary students’ needs are met through enrichment and acceleration, where necessary for the current school year.
In order to ensure that the district is proactively identifying students who may need enrichment or acceleration in all three elementary schools, we have developed a criteria matrix which we are now piloting within our district fifth grade sections. The matrix identifies students that have demonstrated exceptional achievement in Math and/or Language Arts (as measured by the Star Assessment and/or the NJSLA) as compared to their grade-level peers. Once identified, these students' names are provided to the principal and teachers to ensure that enrichment services are available to the student within the classroom. If it is determined that enrichment services are already in place but are not sufficient to meet a child’s advanced learning needs, the child will be referred to the Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS) Team, which may recommend acceleration services for the child.
Families of fifth grade students referred to the I&RS Team for this purpose will be contacted and invited to attend a consultative meeting by December 15. After the process has been completed for our fifth grade students, it will be repeated for students in grades K-4 to ensure that all students are sufficiently challenged and empowered to flourish in our schools. Student enrichment needs will be evaluated at the K-4 grade levels by the end of January.
Further improvements to our enrichment and acceleration services are in development for 2021-22.
Building upon our efforts in the current year, our district improvement measures will expand the scope and comprehensiveness of our services by including enrichment, acceleration, and intervention offerings within a new multi-tiered system of supports. To further drive our personalization efforts, we also are designing a model of individual learning profiles for each student, which will include academic indicators along with measures of cognitive function, student interest, and wellness. These efforts will assist us in proactively anticipating and meeting student needs at all levels of the learning spectrum. We look forward to sharing our progress with you as we develop these systems this winter and spring for implementation in September 2021.
If you have any further questions pertaining to academic services that your child may need, please feel free to contact Assistant Superintendent Dan Ross at email@example.com.
Best wishes for health and safety this winter season.
Superintendent of Schools