Advanced Learner Program Guidelines
Our mission is to meet the needs of all District 98 students so that they can attain their maximum potential utilizing their abilities and talents. Our goal is to encourage lifelong learning, and nurture student academic, creative, cultural, emotional, social and vocational growth.
District 98 Board Policy
Berwyn North School District 98 6:130 Instruction Program for the Gifted
District 98 follows the Illinois School Code’s definition for identifying Advanced Learners.
Illinois Code of Gifted and Talented Education Sec. 14A-20. Gifted and talented children:
For purposes of this Article, “gifted and talented children” means children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with other children and youth of their age, experience and environment. A child shall be considered gifted and talented in any area of aptitude, and specifically, in language arts and mathematics, by scoring in the top 5% locally in that area of aptitude.
District 98 uses a cluster model to meet the needs of advanced learners. Students who are identified are placed in a cluster of qualified students for grades 3 through 8 and are expected to maintain a high level of performance in an accelerated and enhanced curriculum. The program includes differentiation of the Common Core Curriculum to meet the academic and emotional needs of academically advanced learners. Educators design their instruction to meet the individual needs of the student. It is acknowledged that the students differ from their peers in their capacity to learn at faster rates and may study more in-depth and complex content. Academically advanced learners have a capacity to find, solve, and act on problems more readily, manipulate abstract ideas, and make connections.
The development of the Advanced Learner Program is guided by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Gifted Programming Standards, academic research, and the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University.
Purpose and Student Outcomes
Common Core State Standards and assessments aligned to these standards are designed to be more rigorous and challenging than the standards that were replaced. However, they are designed to challenge those students working at grade level and do not address students working above grade level and/or at a quicker pace. The Common Core provides a starting point for all children, but advanced learners need to be guided and provided the means to achieve their potential without limits (Plucker, 2015).
Grouping academically advanced learners increases student achievement. Grouping them with like-minded peers allows them the opportunity to connect with other students and develop positive social skills. Providing them with the challenging learning opportunities they need helps reverse underachievement and nurtures their desire to learn, encouraging students to stay in school. Providing enrichment and accelerated programs enables students to make continuous progress throughout their learning experience. Studies show that students who participated in such programs maintained interests and career aspirations in college (Reis, 2008).
Identification Procedure For Placement
An identification procedure is a process used to recognize students with advanced learning needs so an appropriately differentiated curriculum can be provided. Identification includes the two processes of screening and placement.
District 98 uses universal screeners and multiple points of entry to services. The screening and selection process for the Advanced Learner cluster in grades 3-8 may include the following data:
- NWEA MAP (Universal Screener)
- CogAT (Grades 2 & 5)
- IAR scores
- Teacher recommendation
The above criteria will identify the top 5% of all of the current students in District 98 in 2nd and 5th grade. Those students will be placed in the advanced learner cluster. If in some cases, the identification system would only identify 2-5 students per grade per school, then an additional 10-15 students will be selected (based on data and local norms) for the cluster in 3rd -5th grades.
Parents will be notified through a letter if their child has qualified to be part of the advanced learner cluster. Teachers will be in contact throughout the year to discuss this placement with parents. Students are expected to maintain a B average or higher in academic classes, if a student falls below, the student may be removed from the Advanced cluster (3-5) or class (6-8).
The District 98 Advanced Learner Program is an integral part of the third through eighth grade instructional program and is an ongoing process. Frequent evaluation, both formal and informal, will determine the need for differentiation for our higher performing students.
The District 98 Advanced Learner Program:
Includes more rigorous coursework and extended day opportunities to challenge the students identified.
Offers a variation in instructional approach – uses new techniques, strategies, materials, opportunities for review, and practice
Includes, but is not limited to, differentiated instruction, rigorous coursework, and participation in after school events.
Includes a weighted Grade Point Average (GPA) at LMS (5.0 scale instead of 4.0)