End of D181's Pullout ACE Program Proposed for Elementary Schools

Increased standards in math and English language arts, paired with increased application of ACE principles district-wide would eliminate the need for an exclusive program, the district's Advanced Learning Task Force said Monday.

The need for a pullout elementary ACE program in District 181 would be eliminated with the implementation of higher-level curriculum in every general education classroom, according to a presentation by the district’s Advanced Learning Task Force Monday night.

The task force’s proposal, presented during the board of education's meeting at Elm School, plotted out ways to increase math and English language arts standards for all grade levels while emphasizing ACE components such as higher-level thinking skills, hands-on activities, increased research and increased rigor in all elementary classrooms, as well as at the district's middle schools.

READ: Exclusive Middle School ACE Program Phased Out Under D181 Proposal

By doing so, the district will provide an elementary ACE experience to advanced learners every day while keeping them in their general education classrooms, task force member and Monroe School differentiation specialist Penny Davey said.

“This is ... not a one-day-a-week solution,” Davey said, referring to the old ACE pullout program that bussed advanced learners to Monroe each Wednesday, “but working towards a 100-percent-of-the-time solution.”

This school year, the one-day-per-week pullout program for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade ACE students was reduced to a half-day-per-week program for fourth- and fifth-graders who had previously been placed into the exclusive ACE program.

This year’s third-graders were not a part of the pullout ACE program, and there will be no pullout component for any elementary students next year.

POLL: End of Exclusive ACE Program in District 181: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Current fourth-grade ACE students, who were identified for the exclusive pullout program as third-graders, will receive individual learning plans this spring for their fifth-grade year in 2013-14 that will be managed by the differentiation specialists (formerly known as gifted specialists) at each District 181 elementary school.

“The differentiation specialists will work with the fifth-grade teachers to implement that plan,” Davey said.

Hinsdale Middle School differentiation specialist Danielle Scacco said the proposal aims to address the opinion of gifted consultant Tonya Moon that District 181’s pullout ACE program provided advanced learners a part-time solution to a full-time need.

“We really tried to keep in mind, how can we offer a full-time solution to a full-time need?” Scacco said.

While focused on serving many advanced learners through an increasingly rigorous and differentiated general education setting, the Advanced Learning Task Force addressed those students who, even with the rising standards, will be “far beyond” the district’s advanced learning expectations.

“We recognize that there are students that go beyond advanced learning goals,” Scacco said. “We will be using individual problem solving process to create service plans.”

Those plans would include services such as compacting curriculum, one-on-one support, and subject or grade-level acceleration.

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See also:

  • Exclusive Middle School ACE Program Phased Out Under D181 Proposal
  • Former D181 Admin on Transition Year: 'Our Children Deserve Better Than This'
  • D181 Philosophy Statement Posted for Public Review
  • D181 Board Member Does Not Make Motion to Eliminate ACE Program
  • D181 Board OKs Elementary ACE Transition Plan
  • D181 Changes Course on ACE Program Transition Plan
John Public January 30, 2013 at 09:57 PM
My daughter was in the ACE program at CHMS and it was a great experience for her. Prior to this she was in an ace-type program in Austin, Texas but it was of the type being discussed here - trying to differentiate within the same class. She said it was completely useless. So this change is not likely to be a good one.
AAM January 31, 2013 at 02:17 PM
A lot of smoke and mirrors -- the presentation did not address clear and specific assessments which is a crucial issue in d181, or how Renee Schuster is going to be held accountable for this grand experiment. The district is pinning their hopes and our children's futures on the least developed skill of our teachers - that of differentiation. This is not an indictment of our teaches, just a reflection of the reality of the learning environment that requires their attention in so many areas that already have them stretched so thin. There were no details about teacher development and how these skills would be imparted, maintained and assessed for d181 teachers - not something that is created in a couple summer seminars. Equally important was the complete absence of the issue of class size and how "differentiating" with 27 children in a classroom is possible -- or the budget implications of changing class size policies. Last, there was also no discussion about integrating into a very intense and highly segmented class structure at HCHS where students are once again pulled out by learning capability (mainstream, honors, AP) and possibly disadvantaging our students vs. other middle schools entering HCHS.
C Chen January 31, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Renee Schuster is a trained speech therapist and has no clue as to how impossible it is for teachers to execute this level of differentiation to the ability levels of 25+ students in one classroom. The reality is she will be headed to her retirement home in Arizona (already purchased) in less than three years while 181 is left in ruins, especially if this so-called Advanced Learning plan is passed by the 5 member majority of the BOE: Nelson, Yaeger, Turek, Lewensohn and Rhoads, each of whom will rubber stamp anything Schuster and this task force recommends. Let's get real folks: this advance learning plan is a fantasy that will cost us taxpayers loads of money, and our children will suffer greatly in the process. The use of substitute teachers this year has gone through the roof, and there have been no questions raised by the clueless majority of 5. And if we need proof of the merits of our administration to facilitate change, we only need to look at this "transition year" as an example. Our children are doomed.
Marilyn Mauritz January 31, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Educational trends cycle and recycle. Individualized learning or differentiated learning is one such example. This style seems to work with either catch-up learners or gifted onees. Most good teachers use this naturally. " Success" in whatever trend is often reliant on results of what must be a billion-dollar drain on the meagre educational budgets of today: the testing industry! We educate and license teachers just as we do lawyers and doctors. Why not let educators do their jobs? It seems that everyone is an educational expert because he once sat in a classroom! Lawyers and doctors don't have this kind of constant and annoying "input." Perhaps if budgeting is a factor, teachers should be trusted as professionals to do their job and left to it! Save limited resources given so freely to the testing industry, perhaps the Bernie Madoff of Educational Investments? Tests often reveals that those making the tests "fail" to know their audience! The simple fact that we learn from our mistakes is mostly lost by the students not being to know how they did on a test for fear it will compromise the product! Finally, testing cheats the teachers and their students out of the most valuable resource possible: educational time with each other! How can we analzye every aspect of education and turn a blind eye to this one? Perhaps your local district should account for this budget item? Perhaps laws which may require testing need to be changed?
Ann Mueller February 01, 2013 at 09:35 PM
My concern with the "smoke and mirrors, integrated" approach proposed in D181 is it is going to destroy any chance D181 will be successful in hiring a truly knowledgable, experienced new Asst. Supt. for Learning. A genuine learning professional will know this proposed approach is NOT the way to move forward in D181 and, therefore, he/she won't apply for the position. The individual responsible for designing and leading the learning of our students is THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION IN D181. Also, there absolutely is no one currently in the D181 Administration QUALIFIED to move into the position of Asst. Supt. for Learning. The following is the current profile of a previous Asst. Supt. for Learning in D181, Christine Rauscher: Ph.D., Educational Leadership, Curriculum, Literacy Education, University of Iowa; M.A., Literacy Education, University of Iowa; B.A., Elementary Education, Iowa Wesleyan College. Involved with the Iowa Department of Education implementation of the Common Core State Standards, was project director for the Common Core State Standards Curriculum Mapping Project in a large Indiana district, and has worked with the Kansas City, Kansas School District along with other districts around the country to help them align their curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development to the CCSS. Been responsible for the creation of multiple curriculum alignment initiatives. This is the type of learning leader D181 needs. Ann Mueller, former D181BOE member


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