Differentiation Specialist Feedback Needed


Some important MPS advanced learner updates/information to share:

1. We encourage everyone to reach out to your school’s Differentiation Specialist – even if just to connect and introduce yourself and student.  We are hearing positive feedback – specialists are working with the teachers to implement the district-provided AL curriculum (it exists, in all subjects – just a matter of working with your school to access it. Not all teachers will automatically provide it). 

2. Curriculum: according to the K-8 AL lead, the AL curriculum is intended to REPLACE the standard curriculum if a student can test out. To measure this, MPS is training the specialists in an online pre-testing system called “Illuminate,” which allows for quick pre-testing for mastery in all subjects, all grades. This is fairly new – a work in progress. Your student may not get this unless you ask and advocate for it! 

3. Full grade and subject acceleration are also options – something you can also ask your specialist about.  More info here and here. Applications for full-grade acceleration are being accepted now for 20-21. 

MPS updates from October’s DPAC (District Parent Advisory Committee) meeting:  (items in bold related to advanced learners)
The School Board passed a resolution on the values of Comprehensive District Design. As part of the Comprehensive District Design, there are two items that are taking place:
        1. Feasibility Studies at the following schools: Heritage, Longfellow, FAIR, and Wellstone.
              a. Heritage – this was an alternative charter school that MPS took over. The study will examine the program to have it remain as it is or identify what kind of additional support it will need.
              b. Longfellow – school for teen moms, which will look at the best space or co-locate the program.
              c. FAIR – look at changing it to a conservatory arts program and what it will need if we change it to a conservatory program.
              d. Wellstone – co-locating to MCTC campus, which is where many of our students attend for college credits already. We hope to complete Heritage and Longfellow in November.

         2. The study on EduLog – understanding the makeup of our schools will be presented to the Board in November. Pro Forma budget for 2020- 2021 has begun that will include a projected enrollment, projected revenue (state and federal), and projected expenditures (compensation). The Finance Committee will take up the conversation, and there will be some hard decisions to make.

The 2019-20 Academic Plan was presented. Key points:
Current focus on: 

  • Equity Lens
  • Social and Emotional Learning
  • Early childhood
  • Early literacy and math – there will be a new K-2 math curriculum – more info to come 
  • Professional development around “expanding mindset of core instructional practice to include students who need acceleration and support”
  • Differentiation Specialists: Roles are to build coaches (model, co-plan, co-teach); support teachers in serving ELL, SpEd, Gen Ed, ALs and Multilingual ed; engage in MTSS process (tier 1 core instruction). PD to include: understanding diverse learners, differentiation in service of equity and how we talk about students, cultural and economically diverse students reaching potential, tiered instruction and scaffolding, coaching, students excelling and MTSS. 

Moving forward focus on: 

  • Middle level (6-8)
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • ethnic studies
  • extended learning
  • advanced academic and career pathways

If you have any further questions, or have feedback for the district, please reach out! We are happy to share your questions/thoughts with them – next DPAC meeting Nov 19. 

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs
Jess Khan + Tyra Zuchowski, co-presidents
facebook: @mcgtminneapolis
Minnesota Council for Gifted and Talented

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