Ravinia Enrichment Services

  • Guiding Principles of Advanced Learning


    Philosophy of Advanced Learning

    All children in North Shore School District 112 (NSSD 112) are entitled to a world-class education that enhances their quality of life and maximizes their chances for success. As part of carrying out our mission to nurture every child to become an inspired learner, a well-rounded individual, and contributing member of a global community, NSSD 112 is committed to making sure that all students strive for and achieve personal academic excellence.


    Offering advanced learning opportunities is one way that each and every child can achieve personal academic growth and feel capable and worthy in his/her learning. Advanced learning can happen in every course/subject in every classroom, on any given day. Every child in all cultural groups, socio-economic levels, and with linguistically diverse backgrounds may demonstrate readiness for advanced learning at anytime or in any subject. It is with this mindset that we offer high-quality experiences and curriculum typically reserved for the gifted to all students.


    To better support the differentiated instruction that students regularly receive in their classroom, Advanced Learning Opportunities (ALO) are designed to deepen, enrich, and extend specific academic experiences for students who may at times require alternate experiences and approaches to be sufficiently challenged. An ALO identification provides teachers an advanced opportunity in knowing that your child may have unique learner needs or skills in the mathematics or English language arts content area.


    Flexible Delivery Models

    Children and grade level peers will be supported in a variety of ways including flexible groupings, push-in support, personalized assignments or projects, co-teaching, and/or differentiated work taught by grade level classroom and ALO teachers. The manner in which services occur will change throughout the year and look different at each grade level and school based upon the identified number of students, student readiness, building schedule, and classroom structures. Each building and grade level will determine the best way to meet a child’s and the grade level needs. All ALO services and groups will be working within grade level standards.


    Review Process

    North Shore School District recognizes that students are constantly developing and growing, which is why students are reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout their elementary school careers. Elementary participation in ALO does not determine placement in advanced or accelerated courses at the middle school level.


    Exceptional Students

    NSSD 112 also recognizes that the general education program may not consistently support the development of some students who demonstrate significantly advanced knowledge, conceptual understanding, and skills in one or more content areas. In these cases, a student may benefit from curricula, instruction, or learning experiences that replace or supplement those that are provided in the general education program. Individual plans are created to based upon student needs.



    • Programmatic and instructional decisions are aligned with the seminal works of Teaching and Learning and District documents.
    • A standardized identification process exists to ensure that students who require additional challenge and rigor are sufficiently supported in their learning.  Initial ALO identification takes place in 2nd and 5th grades and all students are reviewed annually.
    • The identification process can be initiated by teachers, parents, principals, and students.
    • ALO exposure and early identification work occurs in K-2 classrooms to promote thinking development.
    • ALO services are adaptive in nature and flexibly delivered to meet the unique needs of our 3rd through 5th grade students. Students are not required to have an “ALO label” to receive services, nor do ALO teachers work exclusively with ALO identified students.
    • Grade level teachers, ALO teachers, and principals are collectively responsible for effectively communicating the rationale for their school-specific delivery ALO model and be able to specifically explain how differentiation and student-centered learning occurs for each individual child
    • Complex learning tasks are used in all classrooms to promote deep thinking, student growth and reflection on learning.
    • Instruction is planned using the NSSD112 Curricular Frameworks, which incorporate the New Illinois Learning Standards (NILS)
    • Emphasis is on complex instruction to promote deeper exploration of  grade level standards
    • Subject and/or grade level acceleration is reserved exclusively for students with unique needs and require an Individualized Learning Plans
    • ALO & grade level teams will determine the best delivery model that meets students’ and grade level needs.
      • co-teaching
      • small, flexible groups
      • whole group instruction
      • push-in
      • personalized learning approach
    • ALO students are included and reviewed within the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (Data Days)


    Content Expectations


    K-2 Thinking Development

    • Exposes all students to think critically/analytically, practically, and creatively  (Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory)
    • Invites student inquiry and wonder in collaborative environments
    • Introduces and strengthens habits of mind


    ALO Math 3rd - 5th

    • Depth of grade-level standards
      • Emphasis on Standards of Mathematical Practice
      • Integrates various mathematical instructional structures (whole group, flexible (guided) groups, and complex instruction)
      • Integration of designer identity and 5E/7E model
    • Flexible delivery model


    ALO English Language Arts 3rd - 5th

    • Depth of grade-level standards
      • Close reading with paired, complex text sets (various genres, formats, perspectives, eras, etc.)
      • Text dependent questions and evidence based answers
      • Opportunities to discuss texts with peers
      • Opportunities to write about text
    • Rooted in ELA Curricular Framework that includes scope documents and thematic concepts
    • Flexible delivery model


    Identification Process


    Phase I-Quantitative Data  Review & Initial Placement Recommendation

    Initial placement recommendations are made by the Department of Teaching and Learning based on a variety of locally- normed, quantitative measures. NSSD112 does not use hard and fast cut scores to make initial placement recommendations. Rather a student’s consistency of performance across a variety of locally-normed measures is considered. The quantitative data points used to make initial placement recommendations are as follows:



    • Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) in math
      • This untimed measurement assesses a student’s overall level of mathematical knowledge, skills, and application
    • Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) Nonverbal and Quantitative
      • This measurement assesses a student’s critical thinking, quantitative and abstract reasoning skills
    • Las Links and ACCESS scores are also reviewed for students identified as English Language Learners



    • Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) in reading
      • This untimed measurement assesses a student’s overall level of reading comprehension and vocabulary.
    • Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) Nonverbal and Verbal
      • This measurement assesses a student’s flexibility, fluency, and adaptability in reasoning with verbal measures.
    • Las Links and ACCESS scores are also reviewed for students identified as English Language Learners


    Phase II-Initial Placement Review & Additional Data Presentation

    During this phase, school teams consisting of classroom teachers, specialists, and principals review the initial placements and either affirm the placement or make an alternate recommendation. Because teachers know their students best, and because they are most equipped to provide a rich picture of their students’ learning profiles, they are invited to provide additional data to further inform final placement decisions. Educator teams are invited to provide additional quantitative data and/or qualitative data in the following forms: Classroom assessments, student artifacts, performance-based tasks, learner attributes, problem-solving skills, video documents.


    Phase III- Additional Data Review and Final Placement

    In this phase, using a district lens as a decision-making filter, the Department of Teaching & Learning reviews all newly presented data (quantitative and qualitative data are equally valued) to inform a final identification decision. The insights and perspectives of the school educator teams are invaluable to the placement process. For this reason, over 90% of the final placement recommendations offered by the building educator teams are honored. Because students grow and change, a review process is available throughout the school year. This process may be initiated by principals, teachers, parents, or the student.   


    Updated April 2016

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