Advanced Learning Middle School Sciences

Summary: At Seattle Public Schools, advanced learning services are changing so that every student has access to advanced learning options.



SPS middle school science “goes further” than ever

At Seattle Public Schools (SPS), advanced learning services are changing so that every student has access to advanced learning options. An example of these changes can be seen within middle school science.

While most students thrive on the traditional science curriculum, others find the excitement in an added challenge, known in some schools as “going beyond”. Students who choose to “go further” have the opportunity to push their learning to the next level with more complex activities.

“I am a big believer in ‘all children should deal with content,'” said Leah Van More, science teacher at Jane Addams Middle School. “You have to struggle and struggle with content and processes to develop those resilience skills within your education.”

Going further includes additional aspects of a project that keep a student’s work to a higher standard. From increasing technical and computer writing skills, to separate and more rigorous tests and assignments, students have access to advanced learning options.

While this has been part of the Van More curriculum since around 2016, SPS has formally begun providing examples of work, which includes ideas on how to get students to delve into a topic, for all middle school science teachers during the school year. 2021-22.

Before “going further” was an option, elementary advanced learning science students automatically progressed to higher-level science courses in middle school. This was done to meet their advanced learning needs, but it eventually became apparent that the students weren’t prepared for high school courses.

“This was problematic because the students were not getting the basic sciences they needed in elementary school [school]”said Alisha Taylor, an SPS science curriculum specialist.” By the time they got into seventh grade, they were attending high school chemistry and physics and just weren’t ready.

The program also failed to provide access to fair learning experiences for every SPS middle school student.

This led Advanced Learning to partner with the SPS Science department to transform the previous system to support each student’s brilliance. The new type of middle school science education is flexible enough to provide advanced tuition where appropriate and, at the same time, meet a student’s need for school-level support in other areas.

The learning model also acts as a bridge to higher-level science courses and offers advanced learning opportunities at a level more suited to middle school students.

“I want every Seattle student, with a special focus on children furthest from educational justice, our black boys and teens, to have access to all the extraordinary that our teachers and schools can offer to children in this moment, ”said Deenie Berry, Head of the SPS Advanced Learning Program. “They deserve it and we have a moral imperative to provide it in every school in the district.”

Currently, middle school science teachers meet monthly to share tools and resources and to discuss new ideas and types of education that take into account the needs of the whole child. This will ensure equal access to advanced learning opportunities for each student.

Advanced Learning also plans to organize a 2022 summer institute to allow teachers to delve into new teaching concepts.

As changes are made, it’s important to note that advanced learning isn’t disappearing, it’s getting better.

“By ‘going further,’ every student has the opportunity to learn about science in a deeper and more rigorous way,” said Taylor.

Transitions in middle school science are an important part of SPS’s new model of advanced learning service delivery. The change will ensure that every middle school science student receives sufficient elementary level education and that advanced learning services are accessible to all.



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