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Parents unite with Sunnyside school administrators to formulate learning plans for 'highly capable' students

It's apparent that different students learn at different paces.

Some students learn at an average rate, while others learn the topics a bit quicker.

Local parents met with Sunnyside School District administrators last night (Thursday) to form a parent advisory committee to generate ideas on how to make sure all students are learning at a pace that is sufficient to their individual learning abilities.

Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole said, "We are going to answer the question, what do we do with the kids that already know?"

Sunnyside resident Brittany Weaver says her son was finishing the class-assigned work quicker than his classmates. So, she began meeting with other parents, teachers and school administration officials to help formulate ideas and begin answering that question.

The parent group researched other school models and came up with preliminary goals and ideas to meet that need.

The highly capable program's goals are to provide individual learning curriculum to all students while also providing challenging instruction and curriculum to higher performing and gifted students on a daily basis.

Parents also want teachers to provide instruction at a pace that meets the needs of the higher performing students. In addition, the goals are to provide the aforementioned objectives within the school day (not in afterschool programs) and within budgetary restrictions.

One suggestion revealed by Weaver, called cluster grouping, would allow a small group of gifted students to be placed together within a mixed-ability class. Weaver believes this could enable the teacher to plan tasks that will appropriately challenge the students in the gifted cluster while also allowing the students to experience the benefits of mixing with like-minded peers, academically and socially, as well as mixing with like-aged peers from the fuller cross-section of abilities and interests.

Cole says he would like to see the ideas implemented into classrooms by the next school year.

Of the nearly 50 parents in attendance last night, the district's cabinet group will choose those interested parents as part of the advisory committee. There was also talk of forming possibly two committees to narrowly discuss the needs at the elementary and secondary school levels.

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