GROTON -- Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School Principal Steve Silverman told the School Committee that a pilot program that groups high achievers while keeping them in normal classroom settings had proven a success.
"Overall, grade seven teachers have reported that this pilot program has gone well thus far this school year and that it benefits all students in the classroom," read Silverman from a prepared report.
In an earlier presentation about the new program, Silverman said that the district needed to address the concerns of high achieving students in order to educate them better and keep them sufficiently interested in their studies.
Statistics indicate that a good number of high school dropouts are bored high achievers, which current educational mores have labeled "gifted."
"The goal of cluster grouping is to identify students who are gifted and talented and to cluster them together in the same classroom," read Silverman. "Cluster grouping is different from other types of grouping practices because the classroom compositions are carefully structured to ensure a balance of abilities throughout the grade level and to reduce the learning range found in every classroom."
When the program ends for the year, Silverman said, plans are afoot to get feedback from parents, teachers and students themselves.
New mathematics pilot
Silverman was also on hand to introduce a new mathematics pilot program for fifth-graders.
The reasoning behind implementation of the new program was a feeling that "teacher-made materials for math instruction" are inadequate in meeting the criteria needed to meet the government's core standards for mathematics.
Fifth-grade teachers were asked to review the common core standards as well as a number of newly published math programs that meet them.
A half dozen such programs were examined for alignment with common core standards, rigor, differentiation, focus on problem-solving, and on-line adaptability.
Two were chosen for testing: enVision and GoMath. Nine classes became involved in their usage with ongoing review by the teachers.
When asked where the money would come from to pay for the program that is finally chosen, committee members learned that funds are already available within the district's budget.
"I see this as a starting point, hopefully going on to other grades," concluded Silverman.
He said eventually, the program chosen will be applied in grades K-8.