March 10, 2010; 9/14/17
The District 102 Talent Development Program philosophy for high ability learners is that it should be an embedded component of the school community. The program adheres to a belief that engagement and excellence should be afforded to all. All learners should be guided toward personal academic excellence through the use of high quality, research-based curriculum and instruction. District 102 believes that each individual, at every degree of ability, has the right to be provided opportunity, challenge, and academic celebrations at school, so that all learners will realize their full potentialities.
Because there is academic diversity among all learners, including those identified as high ability, a differentiated core curriculum and multiple educational service options must be provided to best meet their educational needs. The Talent Development Program's foundation is organized from an approach that offers a variety of services for high ability learners. The Talent Development Program consists of three broad service areas – CLASSROOM-BASED DIFFERENTIATION SERVICE, ACCELERATION SERVICE, & INDIVIDUAL STUDENT PLANNING SERVICE. Currently, the acceleration service is targeting language arts (in grades 5-8) and mathematics (in grades 3-8), but the classroom-based differentiation targets all subjects at all grade levels (K-8.)
Classroom-based Differentiation Service is defined as a curricular modification implemented by a classroom teacher to extend and broaden the core curriculum by increasing its depth or breadth. The content (what is learned), the process (how it is learned), and/or the product (demonstration of learning) are altered in this service. Learners are typically identified for the classroom-based differentiation service through curriculum-based preassessments, formative assessment, and classroom performance.
Depending on student need, classroom-based differentiation modifications might be short-term (lasting 1-3 days) or long-term (lasting the duration of a unit of study). The former targets critical or creative thinking and are usually a component of the district’s adopted curriculum resources. The latter compacts the core curriculum and utilizes supplemental instructional materials. Although classroom teachers typically provide this service in a core classroom, collaboration with grade level teams and school staff might occur.
The classroom-based differentiation service also views the concept of "classroom" in a broad sense. We believe "classrooms" exist outside the school day. Experiences before or after school and those found outside of District 102 would align with this service. Sometimes these are found within our local community, but sometimes they are found in more distant places. This service encompasses any general enrichment opportunity afforded to our students.
Acceleration Service is defined as a curricular modification implemented by a Talent Development Teacher that is intensive in nature. An above-level, rigorous alternative curriculum is primarily used. When compared to the core curriculum, the acceleration service significantly increases the curricular pacing and its complexity. Learners are identified for this service through standardized test scores, classroom performance, and teacher ratings.
The accelerated service is intended to replace the core curriculum for a trimester or academic year. Although there is an emphasis on higher level thinking skills, the importance and maintenance of a strong foundation of basic skills and understanding is addressed. This service is usually delivered to formally identified students in a self-contained setting.
Individual Student Planning Service is defined as a curricular modification that is made after a comprehensive review of relevant performance data. Because these learners’ needs are so asynchronous compared to their grade level peers, a more individualized program that extends beyond the acceleration services offered at a particular grade level is deemed necessary. Examples of possible programming options include: grade skipping, mentorships, distance/on-line learning, or independent research project. The setting and facilitator of the individualized plan will be determined by its specific focus and goal. Learners are typically identified for this service through standardized test scores, classroom performance, teacher ratings, and student/family interviews.
Although learners are identified and matched with specific service options, the Talent Development Program is committed to being as flexible and as inclusive as possible. In order to account for the varied entry and exit points in terms of a learner’s performance, all identifications are fluid and are not considered a fixed, permanent placement. Individual learner progress is continually assessed and evaluated to maintain the priority on “learners as individuals”.