||The Elementary/Middle Grades Program supports educational transformation at the elementary and middle school level by focusing on the concepts of student-centered learning and leadership in a student-centered learning environment.
Student centered learning requires a comprehensive system that supports, empowers and motivates students to take responsibility for their learning and to acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to be successful now and in the future. A system that supports student centered learning includes:
- Clear learning outcomes and assessment;
- Self directed learning facilitated by a teacher skilled in the techniques of learning through inquiry and problem solving;
- Mutual commitment and decision making on the part of students and teachers;
- Recognition of students’ individual learning styles and differences, and instruction that builds on their unique strengths, developmental needs and addresses their challenges;
- Students’ access to technology, including assistive technologies, in order to expand and enhance their learning opportunities; and
- Support structures in the school that enable all students to succeed without tracking and lowering of expectations.
Program staff provide assistance to elementary and middle schools in a variety of areas that include:
- Action planning,
- Career awareness,
- Data analysis,
- Differentiated instruction,
- Facilitating active involvement of families in their child’s education,
- Facilitating transitions,
- Formative assessment,
- Professional development,
- Strategies for working with minorities and students in poverty, and
- Supervision and evaluation.
Program staff work closely with content area specialists, educational support system staff, special education staff as well as the school support coordinators to help elementary and middle schools meet the needs of all learners. Outside of school day opportunities are also available through the 21st Century grants program.
The Middle Grades program works closely with the Vermont Association for Middle Level Education (VAMLE) and the Middle Grades Collaborative to deliver high quality professional development to educators who work with young adolescent students in the State of Vermont.
Staff also serves as a liaison with the regional educational services agencies (ESAs) around the state and support the subject area professional development networks.
||Roots of Success: Effective Practices in Vermont Schools
The Vermont Agency of Education, with the help of an advisory panel representing K-12 schools and higher education, studied what it takes for schools—and therefore students, particularly low-income students—to succeed. A combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods was employed to identify the characteristics common to effective schools. Through a large-scale survey of more than 2000 Vermont teachers in 87 schools across the state as well as intensive site visits to three schools that are “beating the odds” (schools whose Reading and Mathematics scores on state assessments defy expectations and exceed those of other schools with similar demographics), the panel discovered a set of attitudes and beliefs as well as specific school practices that are associated with student, particularly low-income, success. These characteristics form the foundation for school effectiveness and are essential to ensuring that all children, regardless of background or socioeconomic status, reach their full potential.