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Exclusive Middle School ACE Program Phased Out Under D181 Proposal

The District 181 Advanced Learning Task Force presented a comprehensive multi-year proposal Monday night that included a possible future for the ACE program.

The current middle school ACE social studies curriculum will be the standard curriculum for all District 181 middle school students beginning in 2016 if the goals of the district’s Advanced Learning Task Force are realized.

During the task force’s extensive presentation during Monday night's District 181 Board of Education meeting—a presentation that also covered a re-thinking of the district’s math and English language arts curricula—it was proposed that the district phase out the exclusive middle school ACE social studies class over the next two school years in favor of an inclusive program that is open to all interested students while ACE principles are incorporated into the wider general curriculum.

"Raising the floor to raise the ceiling," said assistant superintendent for pupil services Kurt Schneider, who led the task force's presentation.

The current ACE program for this year’s sixth graders would not change as they go through seventh and eighth grade; for those students, there will continue to be an exclusive social studies course that they placed into, as well as the encore class for students who did not place, but want the challenge of ACE curriculum.

The program would look different for next year’s sixth graders, though.

Instead of a social studies class that students must place into, the task force proposed, there would be two ACE social studies sections made up of a combination of both students recommended by staff based on testing and evaluations, and students, like those currently in the encore class, who want to take on the ACE curriculum but may not have tested well enough for a staff recommendation.

The model would be expanded to seventh grade in 2014-15, and to eighth grade in 2015-16.

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

While this transition takes place, the task force proposed expanding “essential components of ACE programming” into the district’s general education curriculum.

Higher-level thinking, student engagement, increased rigor, research, and inquiry- and problem-based learning are all among the principles that the district hopes will be widespread by the 2016-17 school year.

By then, the proposal says, the ACE social studies course should be the standard curriculum for all District 181 middle school students.

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,” said task force member Danielle Scacco, a Hinsdale Middle School differentiation specialist. “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:

  • 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

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