Higley Unified School District provides a number of different avenues for talented and accelerated students at all grade levels. The newest option creates a cohort group for English Language Arts and math studies beginning in third grade.
In this ability-grouped setting, students benefit from learning with classmates who are at a similar language arts and math level. The accelerated model began during the 2017-2018 school year and is now open to students in third and fourth grade, with plans to expand the program annually through the sixth grade at all of Higley Unified’s nine elementary campuses. With the new model, dozens of elementary school teachers in Higley are working toward – or have completed – gifted endorsements.
The new format challenges students and excites them to learn, teachers said.
“Every day is a new adventure. The students are the guiding force as their curiosities become the inspiration that leads instruction,” said Power Ranch Elementary School teacher Vanessa Shively. “From exploring new ways of thinking to solving real-world problems, the students are enthusiastic to tackle new challenges and show what they know.”
Shively teaches third-grade at Power Ranch.
Students immersed in the program take the time to dig deep into each unit study. They also create their own challenges to push each other to view ideas from different perspectives. The program offers multiple layers of activities that keep students engaged, from whole group projects to independent studies.
“The academic achievement we are seeing in student learning outcomes and the excitement kids have for learning at a pace more commensurate with their readiness or ability reminds us of the importance of this type of grouping,” said Kim Dodds, Higley’s Gifted Coordinator. “Our model for academic acceleration allows teachers to plan lessons so students can learn standards that are at and above grade level. Thanks to the dedication and expertise of our teachers, our students are provided personalized learning that is just right for them.”
Higley’s THINK! Highly Gifted Academy began for preschool students during the 2017-2018 school year and now is open to qualified pupils. Both Cooley and Sossaman Middle School provide accelerated options to students in math, science and world languages. Higley and Williams Field High School provide honors, AP (Advanced Placement) and dual enrollment options for talented and gifted students. Students may earn college credit to advance their future studies, as well.