Winchester, MA Admininistration and School Committee: Institute an Advanced Learning Opportunities program
Because 50% of our elementary children are working at Advanced Levels - and equal access to challenge and opportunity does not currently exist in our town.
Our proposed solution bridges the problem (getting critical masses to the identified schools, ie. Vinson-Owen and Lynch). It also addresses another issue in Town, which is providing Equity of Opportunity, for those children working above grade level. Our Advanced Learning Opportunities program is an opt-in program for those children who test sufficiently, and who are interested in moving beyond their current grade level in those areas where they are ready.
The program has built-in flexibility, allowing the district to adapt the qualification criteria on a year-by-year, and school-by-school basis, thus responding to the current need for redistricting problem, now, and in the future.
It also allows the district to more equitably apply teaching methods throughout the district.
The Advanced Learning Opportunities program (ALO) is a voluntary, flexible school assignment model. The ALO program solves the problem by getting critical masses of children to the identified schools, without the need for redrawing district borders. The program ALO addresses another issue, that of providing equity of opportunities for challenge for children who demonstrate readiness. A recent NY Times article by Chester Finn, a former US Assistant Secretary of Education states:
” Every motivated, high-potential young American deserves a similar opportunity. But the majority of very smart kids lack the wherewithal to enroll in rigorous private schools. They depend on public education to prepare them for life. Yet that system is failing to create enough opportunities for hundreds of thousands of these high-potential girls and boys.”
Per 2012 MCAS scores, more than 50% of Winchester children achieved Advanced scores. An ALO program for those children who test sufficiently and demonstrate readiness, will allow the district to provide this population with the opportunity to excel.
The program has built-in flexibility, allowing the district to adapt the qualification criteria on a year-by-year, and school-by-school basis, thus responding to the current and future need for redistricting. Both block scheduling, and multi-age classrooms will be used in this program, expanding their application out of the few programs that currently implement them.
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