Theme: Personalized Learning
Organization Level: Classroom
Critical elements: Teachers in higher-performing schools are convinced that all students can achieve at high levels, including those with disabilities or other specialized academic needs. In addition to designing college- and career-ready lessons and activities based on success factors, teachers plan instruction with all of their students and their diverse needs in mind.
Practice: Collaborate with specialists and colleagues to personalize curriculum, instructional practices, and evidence-based learning. Support strategies to effectively meet the specialized academic needs of all students.

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CriteriaLess Effective PracticesSuccess Factors for Meeting State StandardsSuccess Factors for College and Career Readiness
Support for Interventions & Differentiated Instruction

The instructional program tends to be fairly rigid and one-size-fits all. Poor student performance data does not necessarily prompt more flexible teaching or differentiated instruction at high levels of rigor.

Teachers are responsive to student performance data, regardless of students designations. When some or all students fail to master a grade-level skill or concept, educators make adjustments to their teaching, incorporating alternate materials, different learning activities, or additional support while maintaining high expectations and rigor.

Teachers are expected to deliver a flexible program to help all students reach the college and career readiness goal. Structured time and professional development activities provide teachers with the tools they need to monitor student progress, identify students requiring interventions, and plan differentiated lessons.

Intervention & Differentiation in the Classroom

Teachers range of instructional methods is narrow. When students experience learning difficulties, teachers may feel at a loss about what else to try. Without support and training in how to differentiate instruction, educators may delay the whole class until all students have mastered the concept or simply move on in spite of weak understanding on the part of some students.

Teachers note when students have or have not met learning objectives and respond to these differing levels of mastery using a variety of approaches, including flexible grouping, supplemental materials, small-group re-teaching, alternate tasks, and enrichment activities for students with advanced performance.

Teachers routinely engage in school-wide discussions and collaboration around best practices. They employ a wide array of techniques for personalizing instruction. For example: flexible grouping strategies may be further differentiated with leveled texts; supplemental materials often include computer-based, adaptive instruction; and students who are excelling in grade-level work may proceed to more advanced tasks.

Performance Data & Interventions

Teachers do not know how to interpret an IEP, the data presented, and do not have a full understanding of the nature of students disabilities or the implications for classroom practice. Teachers may provide required accommodations year after year with little knowledge of their purpose or faith in their effectiveness.

Teachers are briefed about their students specialized academic needs at the start of each year or semester. In these meetings, special educators explain the results of testing and other relevant data, as well provide a meaningful context for the provisions set forth in the IEP. Teachers understand how their students learn and why particular modifications are essential to their achievement.

Teachers have access to and receive support around all relevant data about their students, including those with specialized academic needs. Based on diagnostic and ongoing performance results, and other relevant psychosocial metrics, teachers not only understand the nature of their students needs, but they can also perceive growth toward learning goals and monitor the effectiveness of the interventions provided.

Integration of Specialized Academics and College & Career-Ready Program

Although teachers participate in required meetings with special educators, such as annual IEP reviews, collaboration between special education teachers and the general education staff is limited.

Special education teachers are considered part of each students teaching team. As such, they participate in discussions of student achievement data, curriculum, and instructional planning. In the context of these and other meetings, specialists help disseminate best practices for helping students with specialized academic needs meet grade-level standards.

Special education and general education teachers are highly integrated. In addition to providing professional development activities, special educators meet with all of their students classroom teachers on a regular basis to discuss progress. Co-teaching is common, with time set aside to co-plan for differentiated instruction.

High Expectations for All Learners

Teachers do not feel equal to the task of teaching all students or they may not believe that all students are capable of learning the required skills and content. They communicate this by watering down the curriculum or lowering performance expectations for some or all of the students.

Teachers believe that, given time and personalized support, all students can master the content and skills set forth in the standards. They communicate this belief by celebrating growth and improvement over time, as well as by articulating and maintaining high expectations for all students in the class.

Teachers believe that all students can reach the schools college and career readiness goals; they communicate this belief via a classroom culture that values all learners, enthusiasm for learning, and celebration of students progress on the path to college and career readiness, as well as consistently high expectations for college and career ready achievement and behavior.

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