Student Achievement

Unusually High Expectations Characterize This Charter School

By Katie Ash — November 10, 2008 1 min read
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Here’s an AP article about a charter school in Arizona that is successfully teaching preschoolers Chinese, kindergartners division, and middle schoolers college algebra.

It’s a small program—only 17 students take the full regimen of classes—but it’s open to students regardless of income, gender, or ethnicity and is based on the idea that all students can perform at gifted levels if they are given the right curriculum and guidance, says the article.

Here’s a little about how the school operates:

Students address teachers by their first names. There's also a wide range of ages and grade levels in any given class. School officials don't believe that students grow at a homogenous pace, so they're generally grouped instead by academic and social characteristics. In this year's crop of AP calculus students, for example, there are three seventh-graders, four freshmen and three sophomores. While the atmosphere is congenial, there are no organized competitive athletic programs and school policies are strict. Officials demand near-perfect attendance, on-time behavior, zero profanity and homework five nights a week.

This is an interesting follow-up to my colleague Christina Samuel’s story about the dynamic nature of giftedness, which talks about how psychologists and educators are now rejecting the idea that giftedness is a static, innate quality that students either have or don’t have.

It sounds like this school in Arizona treats all students like they are gifted, and while I’m sure some students might not thrive in the stressful, academically rigorous atmosphere, it sounds like many of them—who otherwise would not be given the opportunity to do so—are.

What do you think? Is giftedness something that can change? Does that label fluctuate depending on how students are taught and what they are exposed to in school?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.