Middle School ILA Pilot Program
Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, some Frisco ISD middle schools piloted a different instructional approach to Integrated Language Arts (ILA) courses. The pilot campuses placed students who signed up for on-level ILA or Advanced ILA in the same classroom.
While academic assessment data and survey data indicated positive results for students involved in the pilot, the results were not as robust and definitive as we expect in Frisco ISD. Frisco ISD will discontinue the Middle School ILA Pilot Program in the fall of 2023.
This pilot was recommended by a committee of District staff, including teachers and principals who reviewed Advanced Academics offerings at the middle school level and wanted to participate in the pilot.
The District administration closely monitored the pilot and provided embedded support to teachers and campus administration to ensure that the learning needs of every student were met. District administrators are immensely thankful to the campuses and teachers who participated in the pilot
Frisco ISD recognizes that there are many benefits to students working collaboratively with other students of mixed ability levels. Teachers are trained and prepared to differentiate instruction and learning experiences to meet the needs of students at all levels. This model allows the teacher to use flexible groups while providing both interventions and extension experiences to meet students’ individual needs.
As mandated by the State Board of Education, all of the same components of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills are taught no matter which ILA course a child selects. Based on current practices within the various levels of ILA courses, FISD identified that the standards, skills and many of the instructional strategies are the same. Frisco ISD teachers differentiate for the individual needs of the students.
Frisco ISD has high expectations for all students. All students can benefit from collaborating with mixed-ability students engaging in the same classroom.
A combined instructional setting has been in place in middle school social studies classes for several years. As students matriculate up, there is a high-level of success in high school social studies courses, including increased enrollment in Advanced Placement classes. Students are prepared for the academic rigor of high school and demonstrate success in high school social studies courses.
Training and Support for Pilot Campus Teachers
Teachers at pilot campuses will participate in specific ongoing training and support that has been planned and facilitated by Frisco ISD educational leaders and our Region 10 Service Center.
During the pilot initiative, teachers engage in specialized training that focuses on creating and maintaining a rigorous learning environment using differentiation strategies. The District will continue to support teachers as they meet the needs of all students during the school year. Collaborative teams will be given time to intentionally plan for implementation of best practices. Educators will reflect on best practices for instructional design and facilitation in the classroom.
Teachers and administration will monitor student data, adjust and respond to learning needs that arise. Campus and central administration staff will review and analyze progress of students who requested both Advanced and on-level ILA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why will the pilot be discontinued in 2023-24?
Formative and summative assessment data was periodically reviewed to measure student progress throughout the pilot. Survey feedback from students, parents and teachers also helped the District evaluate the pilot. Both academic assessment data and survey data from the 2021-22 school year indicated positive results; however, the pilot did not reach the evidence of success initially hoped for.
District administrators will present findings at a future board meeting.
What does the intervention and extension experiences look like?
There are several ways educators can provide interventions and extensions for students. This includes, but is not limited to: student choice in reading materials, student choice boards or playlists with different student pathways of activities, ability/cluster grouping for learning activities and individualized conferences with the teacher.
How is curriculum change in pilot classrooms?
The curriculum is not impacted. Teachers continue to teach the District curriculum and all Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, regardless of setting. Teachers utilize differentiation strategies, such as small groups, to respond to students’ who may need additional, guided support or who may be ready to delve deeper in grade level skills and concepts through enrichment and extension.
How is my student going to be challenged and appropriately prepared for high school?
Teachers plan at the highest level of the standards and determine the academic skills and focus areas that are foundational for student success in high school. Through differentiated learning experiences, students will develop and extend their learning. This approach provides the pathway for all students to develop the necessary skills they will need to be prepared for high school courses. For example, students may have the opportunity to read texts that are more complex, or texts based on individual interest, or may have additional choices in their learning experiences.
What if I find my student’s needs are not being met?
Please contact your child’s teacher directly to work in partnership to ensure your child’s needs are being met.
Won’t this be harder on teachers?
Frisco ISD teachers continually develop and hone their skills to improve their practice in instructional design to meet the needs of their students. Seeking to continuously improve and refine practice is the norm for education. The workload, number of students, and expectation to differentiate does not change – just the instructional approach.
Based on feedback from teachers engaged in the pilot, the combined model is preferred. Teachers report that they are meeting student needs in ways they have not previously. Teachers report utilizing small groups routinely to meet the varying needs of students and note the mixed-ability classroom is providing more opportunities for student engagement with their peers.
How are teachers going to address behavior problems?
All students deserve a safe and positive learning environment. Teachers utilize a variety of strategies, including routines and clear expectations, to ensure that class time is maximized and focused on learning. Students in need of additional behavioral support will be addressed individually. If you have specific concerns, reach out to the teacher directly.