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American Academy

Flexible Ability Grouping

Instruction methods at American Academy focus on the idea that not all students start at the same level, learn in the same way, or master skills at the same pace. We use flexible ability grouping to address the needs of all students at their own level. The instruction for each ability group is designed to challenge every student with concepts and skills appropriate to their particular readiness level while also requiring them to stretch and grow and master new skills.
Every student at American Academy is assessed in several ways in multiple subjects (including math, language arts and science) throughout the school year. Additionally, our teachers and learning support staff provide constant and valuable insight into student progress, giving us valuable information to add to assessment results for a more accurate picture of whole student readiness. We are then able group our students based on their academic ability, learning style and other growth factors.
Challenging students in all subject areas, including the Core Knowledge science and social studies curriculum, is always a priority. For example, students studying the Civil War who are asked to read literature about the Civil War will be assigned books or other reading materials appropriate to each student's individual reading skill level. We also use technology in the classroom to provide ability-grouped challenge and support.
Ability groups are not permanent -- they are designed to change as students themselves grow and change, so students may move from one ability group to another from year to year. Sometimes they are ready for more challenge. Sometimes they are ready for more challenge in one subject while still requiring support in another. And sometimes we discover through multiple assessments and evaluations that they are in need of more support in multiple subjects. Though changes to ability grouping are not typically made mid-school-year, we do use a continuing schedule of assessments and other evaluation data points throughout the year to validate student ability group placement.

Reading Group Placement

Reading group placement for grades K-5 is determined by multiple data points that include prior year history (grades and teacher recommendations) and grade-applicable assessments, state-mandated assessments and writing benchmarks. In middle school, students attend English (Reading and Language Arts), History, and Science classes with their ability group, so placement is determined using iReading, writing skills and science assessments. iReady math scores are considered for eighth graders due to the math component in Physics.

Reading Group Definitions

  • Intervention
    Small group instruction to students performing below grade level or to students who would benefit from increased direct instruction. Necessary interventions to achieve proficiency will be provided.

  • Supported
    Specialized group instruction to students performing at grade level with increased direct instruction to ensure appropriate challenge and growth.

  • Standard
    Conventional group instruction to solidly performing students (at or above grade-level) with appropriate challenge to ensure continued growth.

  • Advanced Standard
    Advanced instruction to high performing students with increased rigor and depth of knowledge expectations.

  • Accelerated
    Accelerated instruction to high performing students with appropriate challenge and rigor. Applies to 5th grade and higher in English. K-8 in Math. 
  • Honors
    Honors instruction to high performing students with appropriate challenge and rigor. Applies to 8th grade only in English & Science.

Math Group Placement

Math group placement is primarily determined by the student's prior year math level and the student's success at that level. iReady math assessments and successful completion of grade level math course are required to determine a student's readiness for Algebra I or Pre-Algebra. Math placement for new students is determined by American Academy's math placement test as well as CMAS math and iReady math assessments, if applicable.

Under certain circumstances students may be able to skip a math level. Students who struggle with a math level may have to repeat that level. Details and guidelines for both situations are in the K-8 Student Retention and Acceleration Policy.