Ensuring Academic Rigor: When Students Need More

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Every academic classroom has kids who need extra support to reach their full potential, as well as kids who appear to fly through everything you put in front of them. Those kids can become bored or disengaged. Meeting those needs in terms of academic rigor can be challenging, but it can be done. Determining ways to push kids who present as ready for the challenge without leaving other kids behind takes creativity and deliberate planning, but ultimately it pays off for everyone. 

Cate Reed, seasoned administrator, current Senior Vice President of Teach For America, and Possip Reporter, discusses what teachers can do to meet the needs of students who move quickly through material at school.

Supporting the academic growth of every student is no small feat! Teachers always want to ensure they support the success of every student, but that can be easier said than done. When you face students who need an extra push, or families who are sharing that their student is ready for more, consider these ideas:

Planning Ideas for Academic Rigor

GIEPs: Some states have G-IEPS (GIfted IEPs) for students who need accelerating, with annual goals and strategies laid out.  If you don’t have access, or the student does not have the official designation as gifted, offer more challenging tasks, assignments, or projects that go beyond the standard curriculum. Allow them to delve deeper into topics of interest.

Personalized Learning PlansDevelop personalized learning plans for students who consistently fly through the material you usually provide. Base assignments, projects, and assessments on their strengths, interests, and readiness levels. Also, write that up so students and parents know expectations. This helps ensure that they receive appropriate challenges.

Compact the Curriculum: When possible, allow students to “compact” or accelerate through the curriculum by demonstrating mastery of academic content. This enables them to move ahead to more advanced material, preventing boredom and maintaining their interest. If a student can ace the chapter test mid-way through, move them along – or, see if they could join a higher grade level class.

Individualized Projects for Academic Rigor: Encourage and support independent study projects that align with a student’s interests. This allows them to pursue in-depth exploration of a particular topic, fostering a sense of autonomy in their learning. Doing a measurement unit that seems too easy for some kids? See if they can measure the distance to the moon or to Mars!