Inspired by Gen Ed Mom I am starting a conversation about increasing the rigor, challenge, opportunity and support for students working beyond the Standards in our general education classrooms.
As I have written numerous times before, the Standards, intended in theory as a floor - the minimum that students should achieve - function in practice as a ceiling - the maximum that students can achieve. The reasons are multiple, but the primary one is that the focus is on supporting all students to reach the standards rather than supporting each student to achieve as much as they can. All of the focus is on getting students to the standard and there is no focus left for teaching them beyond the standards. In addition to that faulty frame, there are bureaucratic practices that cap student achievement. They include horizontal alignment, vertical articulation, fidelity of implementation, and a gross misunderstanding of how Standards are supposed to work. There is also political opposition to supporting student work beyond Standards. It doesn't make sense but some people think that no student should learn more than their peers. It is somehow unfair, as if they are greedily sucking up all the education and not leaving any for the other kids. No, really. Then there are those who think that the lowest performing students should be our top priority and any time spent supporting students who are not at grade level should all go to those who are working below grade level and none of it should go to students who are working beyond grade level. Finally there are those who reckon that "these kids will be just fine" and since they are obviously getting lessons somewhere other than school they can just keep on getting their lessons there.
This has nothing to do with advanced learning, advanced learning programs, or advanced learners. There is a time when every student is, in one subject or another, ahead of the class. This is about providing challenge for any student who is working beyond standards in any classroom. By the way, Shauna Heath, with her definition of Spectrum as "one grade level ahead" and her definition of APP as "two grade levels ahead" creates caps for the advanced learners in the advanced learning programs. There is nearly as much skill range in APP as you will find in general education classrooms, and the top learners there are capped as well for all of the same reasons. Now let's not talk about those things again.
So what can you do to encourage and support your child's teacher and your child's school to support students working beyond grade level in the general education classroom? If you already have that support, then how did you get it?