Accelerated Schools Program
To Leave Stanford for Storrs
February 14, 2000
The Neag School of Education is about to become the new home of one of the largest and oldest comprehensive school reform programs in the country.
The Accelerated Schools Project, previously based at Stanford University, is moving its national headquarters to the Storrs campus, as a partner with the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.
"We're proud to be chosen as the site for the center and thrilled that UConn will now be home base for two nationally acclaimed school reform programs," says Richard Schwab, dean of the Neag School of Education.
Henry Levin, who developed the accelerated schools program, says, "By partnering with UConn's Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, the Accelerated Schools
Project is establishing a close collaboration with one of the premier centers for gifted and talented instruction, as well as a respected and innovative school of education."
Uniting the two programs at one location brings together two powerhouses in the field of education - Levin, the William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Joseph Renzulli, the Neag Professor of Gifted Education and Talent Development at UConn. Longtime professional acquaintances who have interacted frequently on matters of mutual interest, they share the same basic philosophy that all children, regardless of their socioeconomic background or IQ, deserve the best public education possible by being provided with enrichment opportunities, resources and encouragement.
"Both of our organizations are dedicated to raising the ceiling for kids and providing them with interesting, challenging, and enjoyable learning experiences," Renzulli says, "rather than the traditional remedial approaches that have not proven to be very effective in boosting either achievement or genuine engagement in learning."
Renzulli believes that as partners, the two groups can build on each other's specialties. "The Neag Center will benefit from the Accelerated program's extensive experience in schools that serve at-risk kids," he says, "and, in turn, we can contribute our experience in targeting student strengths and providing know-how about strategies for high-end learning."
Since 1986 the Accelerated Schools Project has been dedicated to turning schools - particularly those with large at-risk populations - into places where all students are brought into the academic mainstream by sixth grade. By using accelerated learning and enrichment strategies instead of remedial instruction, at-risk students eventually perform at levels appropriate to their age group, rather than falling further behind through the slowed-down, remedial process.
There are more than 1,300 accelerated elementary and secondary schools in 41 states and four foreign countries and the goal at each school is to treat all children as gifted and talented - a philosophy also at the heart of Renzulli's work.
Renzulli, who heads the Neag Center, has pioneered a number of teaching strategies for gifted education and for general school improvement that are currently being used by hundreds of schools around the country, including Accelerated Schools. Among Renzulli's strategies is the "Schoolwide Enrichment Model," a practical plan for schools that seeks to increase the level and quality of learning experiences for all students.
Although the two programs will be housed together at UConn, each will maintain its own identity and operation. They will work closely with one another, however, building on the expertise of each other's staff, resources, and existing programs, and will collaborate in research and applying for funding.
The addition of the Accelerated Schools national center to the Storrs campus is expected to have an impact on the Neag School of Education as well. Long-term plans call for the creation of a chair in urban education. "The fact that two notable school reform programs will be based at UConn should serve as a powerful magnet in attracting highly competitive candidates," says Schwab. Also, he expects new programs will be created that will build on the strengths of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model and Accelerated Schools Project.
As part of the decision to move the Accelerated Schools national headquarters to UConn, Levin, who had been serving as director, is handing over the reigns to Gene Chasin, former superintendent of schools for the Nashoba Regional School District in Bolton, Mass., and chair of the national policy advisory board for the Accelerated Schools Project.