Schools target specific needs

Center Grove honing approach to boost learning

Your elementary-aged child in Center Grove schools might have a mix of students in their classrooms in terms of ability or learning style, but teachers will know how to cater to each of them.

The school district is introducing some new ways to group elementary-aged students to make sure that all students are getting the learning style they need, said Jack Parker, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

School officials had a meeting this week to explain to parents their plans to making sure every child ends up in a classroom that will meet theirĀ  learning needs.

The meeting was part of a series that addressed how all of their students learn and how high ability students were identified.

School officials met with gifted-education specialists at Ball State University to help overhaul their elementary high-ability program.

Part of what the research is finding is that students who are not designated as high-ability do better when they are mixed with students who are high ability in at least English or math classes, said Shannon Carroll-Frey, assistant director of secondary teaching and learning.

“The needs of students are best met when there are a variety of learners in classes,” she said.

Part of how high-ability students are taught will help and reorganize how all students are taught.

Currently, the school district has an extended learning program where students who were identified as high-ability in both English and math were offered a place in the program and grouped with other students like them, said Stacy Conrad, spokeswoman for the school district.

Some students who were identified as high ability do not attend the extended learning program and those students were all grouped together in a classroom at their school. This group also included students who were identified as high-ability in just one subject, such as math.

Part of the revamp is getting rid of the groupings outside of the extended learning program and mixing those students with students who were not identified as high-ability.

Students who were identified as high-ability will be clustered in a class together. If there are more than eight or 10 students in one grade designated as high ability in at least one subject, they will be split into multiple classes to get a healthy mix of students in the class, educators said.

And how teachers are educating these mixed classes is changing too.

Teachers will attend a teaching boot camp this summer where they will learn about differentiated instruction, which will teach them how to reach each of the learners in their class, said Parker.

“Our student population is ever changing and the needs of our students seem to be more varied,” he said.

Parents at the meeting were shown examples of what differentiating instruction might look like in the same classroom and educators explained how research showed that mixed-learning classrooms is the best for students at all levels, high ability or not. Research showed that high ability students could thrive in a classroom with all high ability or in students who had different learning styles.

High ability students who are in a classroom with students who are not high ability can have accelerated lessons, Parker has said.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.