Advanced Learning in the Cambridge Public Schools

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 created a full-time job position: Academic Challenge and Enrichment Support Program Manager,

Ms. Paula Feynman was the first person hired into that role in August of 2012. During her five years as Program Manager, Ms. Feynman developed and oversaw interventions and supports for students with advanced learning needs in grades K-8. CALA and the Cambridge Public Schools define these as: students who are learning significantly beyond grade level in one or more content areas.

As of September 2017, Ms. Feynman has accepted a position as the Science and Math Curriculum Coordinator at the Conservatory Lab School in Dorchester, leaving the Cambridge Public School’s Academic Challenge and Enrichment Support Program Manager position open and waiting to be filled.

A description of the Academic Challenge 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

  • 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
  • Teachers, parents, and other school staff can request an ELP — Enriched Learning Plan — for any student, and will work as a team along with the Academic Challenge Program Manager to develop and implement the plan

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:
    • With the exception of math instruction, there will be no tiered instruction or honors classes; classrooms will contain students with a heterogeneous mix of learning needs. Math instruction will be offered in two math pathways, detailed here.
    • Teachers and staff will differentiate instruction
    • Students are to be arranged in small, flexible groups within classrooms to provide access to academic peers
  • Grade-skipping is occasionally used
  • Teachers, parents, and other school staff can request an ELP — Enriched Learning Plan — for any student, and will work as a team along with the Academic Challenge Program Manager to develop and implement the plan

Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, Grades 9-12

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.

Additional Resources

Here are additional resources for parents and educators around issues of advanced learning:

If you have concerns about services for students in need of advanced learning in the Cambridge Public Schools, we encourage you to 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.