Last updated: August 01. 2014 1:31PM - 489 Views
By - ostapleton@newsdemocratleader.com

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When the Russellville Independent School District starts its new year next week, several children will be benefiting from a new and improved Students Engaged in Accelerated Learning (SEAL) program.

The SEAL program has been a part of the Russellville district for several years now, but a new series of guidelines has been implemented to help make sure the students that will most benefit from the program are a part of it.

“Before when we had a student referred into SEAL or GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) we just did it based on what we thought,” said assistant superintendent Susan McCloud. “If a parent asked us why we chose a certain student, we couldn’t really give a definitive answer.”

Now, students qualify based on a series of benchmarks that have been set. The more benchmarks a student achieves, the higher level of acceleration they will be placed in. There are two tiers of acceleration.

The first category is content-based acceleration. This provides students with advanced content usually within their grade level.

“All of the lessons will be going along with what is going on in the classroom, only at a higher level,” McCloud said.

The second type of acceleration is grade-based and will result in a student moving up to a higher grade level for some classes. For example, a third grader that is advanced in reading may move up and have a reading class with a group of fourth graders. This year, some fourth and fifth grade students at Stevenson Elementary who are in the program for grade based acceleration will be bused to the middle school for part of their day to take middle school classes.

“We’re always working a lot with the middle to bottom students in education,” McCloud said. “We want to have intervention for the top children. Every child in the SEAL program will have a plan based on their needs as a gifted student. That’s very different from what most districts are doing.”

Some of the benchmarks that have been set out for students to be in the SEAl program are scoring in the top 85 percent of MAP or other end-of-course assessment, scoring distinguished on the K-Prep test or having a pre-school PALs score in the 90th percentile or higher.

Students in grades K-8 are eligible for the SEAL program.

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