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RFSD offers advanced learning options for all students

RFSD UpdateSuzie RomigGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A few years ago it would have been less commonplace to find a third-grader joining a fourth-grade classroom for math, a kindergartner joining first-graders for reading, or an eighth-grader in high school algebra. These days, Roaring Fork School District leaders and teachers are striving to provide such accelerated learning opportunities for all students.”We really are working so hard to meet the students’ needs,” said Crystal River Elementary School seventh-year teacher Alysha Findley. “I have a third-grade math student in my fourth-grade math class because that’s what she needs.”Paula Marr, RFSD instructional facilitator, said the lines between grade levels are becoming fuzzier in order to better serve students.

“More and more throughout the district, the ceiling is being lifted,” Marr said.Many parents already know about special field trips and the well-established gifted and talented PEAK program that provide enrichment, but parents may not realize that advanced learning opportunities in the district go further to provide rigorous academic challenges each day.”Whether the subject is math, social studies or reading, the district wants all students to be challenged, and is providing a variety of different opportunities for different kids,” Marr said.On the elementary level, the district offers high literacy groups, math challenge classes, environmental education programs, academic competitions, guest educators from museums, visiting musicians, dual-language bilingual options, and special projects related to technology, science or writing clubs. Carbondale parent Cathy Derby said CRES has provided a “phenomenal experience” for her children who have progressed to reading and math at higher grade levels.

“It’s meeting all of our needs, and my children are thriving and excelling,” Derby said. “The teachers are so dialed in to a child’s needs. They are challenging my daughters every day of the week.”At the middle schools, advanced learning for students can include participation in special enrichment projects or competitions such as Destination Imagination, Future Cities, Brain Bowl or Math Counts.Advanced math is a focus at Glenwood Springs Middle School this year. Twenty eighth-graders travel to the high school to take advanced algebra or fundamentals of geometry for high school credit. The math push puts the students on a track to earn college-level math credit in high school. Next year, the high school credit classes will be taught in-house at GSMS. The Glenwood school is offering seventh- and eighth-graders the opportunity to move up a level in algebra, and is providing advanced math challenges for sixth-graders during Flex Fridays.



At Carbondale Middle School this year, 14 eighth-grade students are moving ahead in their studies by taking high school level courses by correspondence through Louisiana State University with the guidance of a CMS teacher advisor.In the RFSD high schools, students can skip past basic courses, choose the more challenging honors option in any core course, or earn dual credit toward college. At Basalt High, for example, students have access to 67 college credit hours through CMC and CU Succeed programs, with classes ranging from art history to biology to sign language. Students can earn enough college credits to place out of their freshman year at a Colorado college.Parents who wish to participate in ongoing district meetings about accelerated learning can contact Marr at 384-5563 or marrpau@rfsd.k12.co.us.Suzie Romig is the RFSD’s public information officer.


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