Board of Ed Candidates Answer CQE Question #3

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Question #3 Balanced Literacy and Differentiated Learning are now part of the District's curriculum at the elementary school level. How can we ensure success for all students at every level?

Rose deVries:

Success for every student can be ensured with instruction that is truly differentiated for each individual student at every level of ability, whether Language Arts Literacy classes are heterogeneously or homogeneously grouped for the 2013-2014 school year. Not only should every student receive his or her own Personalized Student Learning Plan (PSLP) and receive differentiated instruction, students of every ability level should receive an equal amount of weekly instruction time. Each student at every level needs teacher facilitation and support. All students at every level should be working in their zone of proximal development, which means every student should be challenged without being unduly stressed.

Jonathan Lifton:

As a board and a district, we must demand that all students be challenged and be facilitated in growing to their maximum potential at every level. Balanced Literacy and Differentiated Learning are the accepted best practices for accomplishing that goal in the elementary grades and was strongly recommended for implementation by our Superintendant and Director of Curriculum. The board has dedicated significant resources to insuring these programs are a success including hiring an implementation consultant and considerable professional development. All programs, however, must be continually monitored and evaluated using data driven metrics, and the board and administration will remain vigilant in assuring that these new programs are resulting in higher student achievement at all levels.

Michael Stern:

I must be honest here that I know next to nothing about Differentiated Learning nor do I pretend to have an opinion the subject. However, if you ask me how we can ensure success across all levels, we can back up and start by collecting all the video game consoles and iphones in the community and give them back to our kids when they're adults. The implied goal of "Balanced Literacy and Differentiated Learning" is to maximize kids' ability to read and comprehend as well their ability to absorb knowledge or learn. Well, last time I checked, that is rather difficult when we live in a culture that has virtually turned kids into "screen addicts". I'll get off my soap box now but I think you get my drift. Kids are not reading as much as they should in their personal time. They are virtually addicted to the Internet and social media and that is leading to decreased attention spans and a "short circuiting" of cognitive abilities. Until we get this epidemic under control, my fear is that we will not be able to bring out the best of our kids' abilities and learning.

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