Cambridge Advanced Learning Association (CALA) was founded in November, 2011 by a group of parents concerned at the Cambridge Public Schools’ then lack of any formal policy or program for students in need of advanced learning. CALA’s mission is to work together as a parent community and with Cambridge’s teachers and administrators, to support students of every race, ethnicity and socio-economic background in need of advanced learning, at the same time as we support the needs of all students. Our mission is outlined on the home page, and our long-term goals are outlined here.
Superintendant Jeff Young’s Innovation Agenda made sweeping changes to the middle grades in our public schools, and although it caused a great deal of disruption, it also provided opportunity for some improvements. CALA members have been working with our administrators and teachers to develop specific, evidence-based policies and services for students in need of advanced learning in Cambridge, in the middle grades, and other grades as well.
We also want to acknowledge the work that members of our community have done for years around this issue. We are grateful to the parents, teachers, adminstrators, and school committee members who have continued to advocate on behalf of advanced learners in Cambridge. They have paved the way for CALA to do the work we are now doing.
CALA parents have taken on various roles, including:
- Contributing many resources and book recommendations for parents and teachers
- Developing Yearly Action Plans for CALA, which are outlined in the meeting minutes archive
- Contributing to the development of the Cambridge Public Schools’ new Academic Challenge Policy and Academic Challenge Plan for the middle grades
- Working with the school district to create, fund, and hire a new Academic Challenge and Enrichment Support Program Manager to serve students in grades K-8
- Participating in meetings of the Parent Advisory Group on Advanced Learning, run by the Academic Challenge Program Manager
- Serving as CALA parent contacts for schools throughout the district
- Working with the Academic Challenge Program Manager to invite expert visitors for workshops and events
- Blogging about how advanced learning is addressed locally, nationally, and globally
- Tweeting as @cambridgeCALA about education for advanced learners and related topics
We welcome participation from the community. Feel free to contact us if you have questions or concerns, resources to share, or would like to take on a project. Cambridge parents of children with advanced learning issues are also welcome to join our private Yahoo Group (listserve).
- Freedom Baird, CPS parent and CALA founder