Accelerating the Learning of All Students: Cultivating Culture Change in Schools, Classrooms, and Individuals

By Christine Finnan; Julie D. Swanson | Go to book overview

1
The Multiple Meanings of Acceleration

Anna is an attractive, gregarious fifth grader who has been identified as gifted and talented. She lives in a comfortable middle-class neighborhood with her college-educated parents and older sister. Most nights, the family catches up on the girls' activities over dinner. Anna recounts stories from her special class for gifted students, while her sister talks about the demands of Advanced Placement high school courses. Both girls take piano lessons, and Anna is a member of a neighborhood swim team. Anna's parents are proud of her accomplishments, especially the fact that she skipped first grade and tested into the gifted program in her school. Anna's parents are pleased with the schools in their community, as long as their girls are selected for gifted classes or advanced tracks. Knowledgeable parents in the community know that they must be assertive to ensure that their children are well served in the schools.

Richard lives with his extended family in a small bungalow in a neighborhood of light industry and small homes. Richard shares his three-bedroom home with his parents, five siblings, and his mother's sister and mother. Richard's mother finished high school. His father dropped out and has been working since he was seventeen. Richard's older brother recently stopped attending high school, which is causing considerable tension in the home. When Richard is not caring for his younger siblings, he spends most of his time playing baseball and basketball at the local park. Richard began falling behind his peers in the third grade. By fifth grade he was so far behind that his teacher recommended he be retained. The principal of his elementary school thought he might benefit from a special class at the middle school designed to move students through the fifth and sixth grades in one year. Since enrolling in this class, Richard's attitude toward school has improved; he has even begun to talk about attending college.

Sara is a shy and serious fourth grader who lives with her single mother, two younger brothers, and elderly grandmother in a small house near Westview Elementary School. Her mother has worked at the local button factory since she

-7-

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