On January 23rd, 2012, the GCISD School Board approved the elimination of the on-level ("regular") course track for all middle schools. Currently, middle school students can select between Gifted & Talented/Accelerated, Pre-AP and on-level course tracks when selecting classes in Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science. Starting with students entering the 6th grade in August 2012, there will only be two options, Gifted & Talented/Accelerated and the new "College Readiness" track. Some members of the community have expressed a concern that the new "College Readiness" track will be a "watered down" version of the Pre-AP track, in order to accommodate students that would previously have taken the "on-level" track. However, this is not the intention of the new "College Readiness" track. As in the case of the current Pre-AP track, the new "College Readiness" track includes a curriculum that will prepare students for future AP courses at the high school level. In order to guarantee that all students are college ready by the time they graduate from high school (a goal of our new LEAD 2021 district strategy), the students that would normally have taken on-level classes will be placed in college readiness courses.
As an aside, current middle school students will not be affected by this change (they will still have the 3-course track options for the rest of this year and for their subsequent years in middle school).
One concern about this change is how we are going to ensure that on-level students going into the 6th grade will be ready for a more challenging curriculum within the "College Readiness" track. Rick Westfall, GCISD's Chief Learning Officer, mentioned during this month's Board Meeting that GCISD will review and improve the curriculum at the elementary schools in order to support the new 2-track approach at the middle schools. As this change affects current 5th graders going into 6th grade, GCISD will also offer assistance outside the classroom at the middle school level in order to ensure these students can perform at the college readiness level. This is no different than the assistance that is currently offered at all our middle schools for students that need additional help.
The key strategic goal of LEAD 2021 is to ensure that all students have a "personalized learning plan that leads to college and career readiness." GCISD intends to change the K-12 curriculum in order to establish college readiness as our minimum education standard. Eliminating the on-level track at our middle schools is a change that will lead us towards that goal.
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