Leaders of the three local public school districts assembled on Tuesday night to discuss a program that could change how subjects are administered to students.

Governing board members and the superintendents of Tempe Union High School District, Kyrene School District, and Tempe Elementary School District heard from their directors of curriculum about a program called Advance When Ready. Under the proposed program, which is still in development, a greater emphasis would be put on aligning students in classrooms where they would benefit the most. Such as, if a student is excelling at math or if he or she is falling behind, they would be placed into a more appropriate setting with students of the same skill level.

"Advance When Ready allows students to advance based on skill and not on grade," said Beatriz Rendon, who works in Arizona State University's Educational Outreach and Student Services Department.

How these schools change with the times and how far-reaching this program ends up remains to be seen, but the directors of curriculum suggested a possible next step, a pilot program, in implementing Advance When Ready. The pilot program would involve grades six, seven and eight, as well as a partnership with TUHSD and its Applied Projects program, which is a more hands-on learning experience when it comes to teaching math.

"(We predict) talking with middle schools, high schools and ASU faculty to talk about developing these modules (geometry, algebra) with project-based outcomes for allowing flexible opportunities for students, recognizing they are going to learn at different paces," Lorah Neville, director of curriculum for Kyrene, said.

There were concerns among governing board members that the project was being rushed, due to the fact that some part of Advance When Ready would begin being implemented for the 2012-13 school year. Dr. David Schauer, superintendent of Kyrene, said the next step is to get community feedback and possibly host an information session on the proposed aspects of the program.

Stay tuned to the AFN for more information as it develops.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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