Principles

In an Accelerated School , all members of the school community are invited to share in the leadership of the school. The parents, the students, school staff members, and community members develop the vision for the school; understand its challenges and work together to achieve its goals. Accelerated Schools are based on the following three principles:
UNITY OF PURPOSE – The whole school community decides on the goals for the school which become the target for everyone’s efforts. Everyone in the school is pulling in the same direction.
EMPOWERMENT COUPLED WITH RESPONSIBILITY – All members of the school community help to make important educational decisions, share responsibility for implementing those decisions, and share responsibility for the outcome of those decisions.
BUILDING ON STRENGTHS – There is a commitment to looking for and building on each person’s strengths in the school community.

Values of Acceleration

The following values are embedded and supported in an Accelerated School and lead to acceleration.

  • Equity – Accommodations are provided so that all students can learn and have access to a high quality education.
  • Participation – Everyone is informed and students, parents, the school    staff, and community members are invited to participate in the    Accelerated Schools transformation process. Everyone’s ideas count.
  • Communication and Collaboration – The entire school community     collaboratively works toward a shared purpose by meeting, talking, and     learning from each other’s experiences.
  • Community Spirit – The school staff, parents, students, district      employees and local community members build connections to serve      all students.
  • Reflection – In transforming the school, the school community takes time to reflect, to do research, to work together and to share ideas.
  • Experimentation – The school community explores, designs, tests and      implements programs as a result of communicating about and      reflecting upon the school’s challenges.
  • Trust – Teachers, parents, support staff, administrators, district office,      community members, and students come to believe in each other,      support one another and focus on each other’s strengths.
  • Risk-taking – The school community promotes a safe environment for      informed risk- taking.
  • Community expertise – The resources necessary for excellence are      found within the school community.
  • Respect – Each member of the school community shows regard for the     work of other by being open to diverse ideas and points of view.

Process

Rather than focusing on a particular grade, curriculum, or approach to teaching, accelerated school communities use a systematic process, encompassing collaborative and informed decision-making, to transform their entire school. The transformation begins with the entire school community taking a deep look into its present situation through a process called taking stock. In addition, the entire school community forges a shared vision of what it wants the school to be — the kind of dream school that everyone would want for their own children. By comparing the vision to its present situation, the school community identifies priority challenge areas. The school community itself then sets about to address those priority challenge areas, working through an accelerated schools governance structure and analyzing its challenge areas using the Inquiry Process. The Inquiry Process is a systematic method that helps school communities clearly understand problems, find and implement solutions, and assess their results.


Powerful Learning

In accelerated schools, the best of what we know about education — that which is usually reserved for gifted and talented students — is shared with all students. Members of the school community work together to transform every classroom into a powerful learning environment, where students and teachers are encouraged to think creatively and explore their interests, and where they are given the capacity and the encouragement to achieve at high levels. Accelerated schools seek out, acknowledge, and build upon every child’s natural curiosity, encouraging students to construct knowledge through exploration and discovery, and to see connections between school activities and their lives outside the classroom. All of these learning experiences require imaginative thinking, complex reasoning, and problem-solving.

The entire accelerated school community makes learning relevant by building on children’s strengths in a systematic way. Each accelerated school creates its own evolving set of powerful learning experiences based on its own unique needs, strengths, and vision.

Powerful Learning Triangle

Components of Powerful Learning

  • Inclusive: 
    – Every student is engaged in differentiated content, process and products based upon her/his needs, interests, and strengths in order to accelerated learning. 
    – Students demonstrate their learning using a variety of learning styles and intelligences. 
    – Assessment is used to determine a variety of instructional approaches in each unit and lesson. 
    – The school and each teacher provide opportunities for students to extend and accelerated their learning, to assess their work and to follow-up on individual interests. 
    – All students participate in enriched and challenging learning experiences.
  • Authentic: 
    – Every students demonstrates his/her learning through the creation of authentic products and performances. 
    – Learning applies to student real-life situations or issues. 
    – Teachers assess the learner’s life experiences, knowledge, goals, and interests and use this data to design learning activities. 
    – Instruction includes and makes use of the cultural and family traditions of the students and/or community. 
    – Instruction includes the vocabulary, methods, and.or activities of the work world or the discipline. 
    – Teachers take advantage of teachable moments. 
    – Students reflect on their work and learn from their mistakes. 
    – The school exhibits and celebrates student learning with the community.
  • Interactive: 
    – Every student is engaged in interactive and collaborative activities to share knowledge and expertise or to compete projects. 
    – Teachers’ dialogue with students develops critical thinking. 
    – Students constructively critique their own and each other’s work. 
    – Student interact with a learning community that exists in and outside the school through field-base experiences and/or technology. 
    – Teachers build family-student interaction into the learning and assessment practice.
  • Continuous: 
    – Prior knowledge is assessed in order to engage every student in instructional activities and make connection between various subjects and contexts. 
    – Teachers integrate state, district, and/or school standards to plan curriculum. 
    – Throughout the school, there is a spiraling strand of curriculum from one year to the next that builds on prior knowledge in order to deepen the levels of student thinking.
  • Learner-centered: 
    – Every student is empowered to make choices in her/his learning. 
    – Students’ strengths and interests are identified and used to plan instruction and curriculum. 
    – Students are involved in the planning of instruction. 
    – Most of the displays around the school are student work that shows originality, creativity. and higher-order thinking. 
    – Classrooms are set up so each learner can independently access and use materials, books, equipment, and reference materials. 
    – Learners are guided to manage time and resources effectively.