Below is a summary of the Cambridge Public Schools current services for students in need of advanced learning. In response to work by parent group CALA (Cambridge Advanced Learning Association) and other members of Cambridge’s education community, the school district has recently created a new, full-time job position: Academic Challenge and Enrichment Support Program Manager, and hired Ms. Paula Feynman into that role. As Program Manager, Ms. Feynman will develop and oversee interventions and support for students with advanced learning needs in grades K-8. CALA and the Cambridge Public Schools define these students as: students who are learning significantly beyond grade level in one or more content areas.
Cambridge Public Schools Academic Challenge Contact Info:
Paula Feynman, Academic Challenge and Enrichment Support Program Manager
A description of the Program Manager’s role is here
Summary of the Cambridge Public Schools’ current services for students in need of advanced learning:
Elementary Schools, Grades JK-5
- Currently there is no district-wide program or intervention in grades JK-5 for students with advanced learning needs
- Students’ needs are addressed with differentiated instruction in regular classrooms provided by classroom teachers and school staff
- Students are placed into grades by age
- Grade-skipping is occasionally used
- Students with social/emotional/behavioral issues related to advanced learning are eligible for a neuropsychological evaluation
Middle Schools, Grades 6-8
- An Academic Challenge Policy, and Academic Challenge Plan and Appendices describe how advanced learning will be provided in the middle grades starting in 2012-13:
- There will be no tiered instruction or honors classes; classrooms will contain students with a heterogeneous mix of learning needs
- Teachers and staff will differentiate instruction
- Students are to be arranged in small, flexible groups within classrooms to provide access to academic peers; this practice will be based on the Cluster Grouping model
- An intervention called a Subject Acceleration Protocol (SAP) will be available to students learning “significantly above grade level”. The SAP will include an individualized learning plan developed by the teacher, coaches, student and parent. Quantitative and qualitative evidence will be used to assess a student’s progress in a number of areas, to see if a Subject Acceleration Protocol is needed
- Grade-skipping is occassionally used
Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, Grades 9-12
- Main classes are offered in three tiers of instruction: College Preparatory, Honors, and Advanced Placement
- Students can choose classes at any level, regardless of their age, with guidance from teachers, staff, and parents
- The AVID Program is available to students with advanced learning needs who also need support in study habits and organizational skills
- Students can take Harvard Extension School courses advanced beyond the level of CRLS courses
- Here’s a Parents’ Guide for Advanced Learners at CRLS High School
- Here’s a Parents’ Guide to Choosing Classes at CRLS; this guide is for all students
All Grades’ Resources
Cambridge School Volunteers – CSV
CSV is an independent, non-profit organization supporting the academic and personal success of Cambridge Public School children. CSV develops programs which match caring and competent adults with students of all needs and levels. They connect about 200 kids a year — including students in need of advanced learning — with volunteer tutors. CSV also places classroom volunteers across the system. Sometimes teachers use volunteers to provide “extensions” for students advanced in a subject. Sometimes teachers find a volunteer tutor for a child who needs another caring adult in his or her life, or who needs extra attention because they aren’t meeting benchmarks, or for a number of other reasons. Parents can ask their child’s teacher if a Cambridge School Volunteer would be helpful to provide enrichment for the student, and the teacher can then request one from CSV.
If you have concerns about services for students in need of advanced learning in the Cambridge Public Schools, we encourage you to contact CALA, contact the Academic Challenge Program Manager, Paula Feynman, and also contact CPS’s Leadership and School Committee.
This information was compiled by members of the CALA community. Please contact us with edits or additions — cambridgeCALA@gmail.com.