Defining academic rigor in CPS
Could you guys help me out with something? As part of the LSC for my neighborhood school. we’ll be helping define the SIPAAA, or school strategic plan for the next 2 years. Parents have been talking a lot about wanting more “academic rigor” and I’ve been having a hard time verbalizing what that really means.
The more I thought about it, I think one of the fears of having a child in a big urban school system is that they’ll make it through 8th grade and attend some good high school where they can’t quite cut it. I don’t want MY kid to be one of those who can’t punctuate, barely knows the basics of math, and doesn’t know that Paris isn’t a continent, you know?
As I’ve been thinking this weekend, my current theory is that academic rigor is a gradual process that builds up so kids have the following skills when they enter high school:
-Good reading, spelling, and punctuation skills
-The basics of geography, science, and technology (enough not to embarrass themselves if they showed up at a good suburb school)
-Can write in an organized way
-Have written reports that go fairly in-depth (rather than just regurgitating facts from the Internet.)
-Can engage in some level of critical discussion
-Know how to research and write a basic paper
-When posed with a school project can come up with creative and interesting idea on their own
-Some self-regulation skills at doing school work
I feel like the middle school grades should be working hard towards these goals, with the elementary goal being to get the kids ready for the middle school level of focus on these. So sort of working backwards from 8th grade graduation.
I can’t tell if I’m totally missing the boat, if any of these are too advanced for 8th graders (I don’t know any and I can’t recall that far back!)
Please share your thoughts on what academic rigor means to you and how you feel it is implemented in a school.
Does it makes sense to public acknowledge kids who excel? Or does it make others feel bad?
What can school do to aim high? Is it more than just giving work beyond grade level?
Any input is greatly appreciated.
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