Carden of Tucson School Talent and Excellence Program (STEP)

STEP Defined

The Carden of Tucson School Talent and Excellence Program (STEP) provides for students who exhibit outstanding intellectual, academic ability or aptitude.

  • All students, especially those with talent and excellence in academics, benefit from differentiated instruction.
  • Differentiated instruction will allow the students to maximize their learning potential and contribute to the well-being of their community in the present and long term.

These are the beliefs that guide the design of the Carden of Tucson School Talent and Excellence Program (STEP) for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade.

We recognize that students who have talent and who excel academically exhibit exceptional abilities.  If academically excelling students are to develop their abilities and/or potential, they need ongoing and varied academic experiences to extend their learning. Classroom teachers and the STEP facilitator work together, to provide varied opportunities and experiences to the students, through an integrated approach.

STEP Approval Process

Carden of Tucson recognizes that learners have diverse needs, and is committed to meeting the needs of all learners.  Students who demonstrate excellent academic abilities need additional educational opportunities to extend their learning.  The standard of the STEP program is to provide a variety of educational options which are well-suited to the learning characteristics of each learner, identified for acceptance into the STEP program. Course material acceleration may be the best option for some learners, while others will benefit from extended learning activities.  Students new to the school must complete one semester of attendance, maintaining citizenship, acceptable attendance,  an A average in 2 or more academic subjects, and write a statement of intent, before being recommended for entrance into the program.  Approval for the STEP process includes:

  1. An individual (i.e. parent/guardian, classroom teacher, school administrator) recommends that a student be considered for the STEP program and provides a written request form to the STEP facilitator. The form will be completed in its entirety including the specific reasons for the request.  Parent/guardian will be notified within 30 days and given an opportunity to provide input. CLICK HERE for the STEP Referral Form
  2. After the request has been received by the STEP facilitator, a portfolio reflecting the student’s academic achievements will be compiled by the STEP facilitator within 30 days of the receipt of the entrance request form. The portfolio will include: student’s standardized test scores, student progress reports and report card grades, evidence of student achievement of grade level/course benchmarks, other available assessment information, STEP facilitator recommendations, and a written recommendation from the classroom teacher for the subject(s) involved. The data will be used for STEP team meetings and also for the purpose of keeping a continued record of the student’s progress in the program. CLICK HERE for the STEP Measures Form
  3. Within 30 days of the completion of the learner portfolio, and determination by the STEP facilitator that the student meets the minimum requirements for acceptance in the STEP program team members will receive a written notification from the STEP facilitator to attend a meeting to review the request and supporting data, discuss benefits or challenges of the program, make a placement determination.  If student is placed, the team members will assist in developing individual learning goals for the student. Team members may include: parent/guardian, the student, classroom teacher, administrator, and the STEP facilitator. CLIKC HERE for the STEP Determination Form.
  4. If the team does not recommend placement into the STEP program, the requesting party can ask for reevaluation after the student completes at least one additional semester, meeting all minimum requirements.
  5. Accepted STEP students will receive an annual review provided by the STEP team to evaluate goals, and possibly to develop new goals.

Applications received after April 1 may not be completed by the end of the school year.

STEP Services

Those students accepted into the STEP Program receive instruction and educational services to match their individual needs. This is done through extended services, beginning with STEP Class, continuing with in-class extended learning opportunities, and finally outside learning experiences catered to the student’s unique potential.

STEP Class

STEP class is a peer group that meets 2 times weekly to experience hands-on learning opportunities in the areas of math, science and language arts. The classes are a collaboration between classroom teachers and program facilitators to better enable excelling students to develop their unique abilities and learning potentials.

In Class Extended Learning Opportunities

All Carden students participate in classroom instructional activities. The unique needs of exceptional students begin to emerge during these activities. To meet the unique needs of excelling students in the STEP program, the STEP facilitator works directly with the classroom teacher to develop and implement hands on learning experiences and learning exploration opportunities to extend learning. Some of the learning opportunities may include differentiated instruction methods, such as acceleration of curriculum, compacting of curriculum, independent study, assignment modification, and service as peer helpers.

Outside learning experiences

STEP students benefit from enrichment opportunities that help them become responsible and contributing members of their community. Having exceptional talents and gifts are personal accomplishments that should be shared with gracious intent to contribute to the well-being of others. STEP students may be asked to work with peers, and they will be participating in community oriented experiences. Once per month the STEP students, along with a guardian and a STEP staff member will attend an event outside of school, to be hosted either after school or over a weekend. Outside learning experiences may include visits to local businesses to learn about various jobs, science center visits, zoo events, local college visits, and community volunteer work with the animal shelter, and the community food bank.

STEP Team Member Roles

STEP team members include: student, parent/guardian, administrators, classroom teachers, and program facilitators; individual role responsibilities in the STEP process are as follows:

Student: The student will be a full time student of Carden school, maintain positive citizenship, maintain acceptable attendance, maintain an A average in 2 or more academic subjects, and participate fully in the STEP program (maintaining appropriate behavior).

Parent/Guardian: The parent/guardian will participate with the team approval process, and also with annual reviews to assist the team in developing goals. The parent/guardian will also provide support to their child; encourage their child to maintaining appropriate behavior at school, home, and in the community; and ensure the student is completing all necessary work that is sent home. The parent/guardian will accompany (or ensure a responsible adult will accompany) their student on the once monthly outside learning experiences. The parent/guardian will also provide financial support/or fundraising support as needed to fund various STEP activities.

Administrator: The Carden school administrator will provide support for the STEP program. The administrator will participate as a team member in the approval process and the review process annually. In addition, the administrators will participate as curriculum experts, assist with the development implementation of differentiated instruction methods, and assist in the coordination of extended learning experiences for the STEP program.

Classroom Teachers: The classroom teacher will participate as a team member in the approval process and the review process annually. In addition, they will collaborate with the STEP facilitator to develop and implement differentiated instruction in the classroom. The classroom teacher will assist the student in developing appropriate work ethic and spirit of community contribution through providing positive peer interaction opportunities, and extended learning opportunities within the classroom. The classroom teacher may also be asked to contribute their unique talents in various classroom enrichment, and STEP class opportunities as needed.

Program Facilitators: The STEP facilitator and staff will coordinate applications, and resulting review of potential participants. The STEP facilitator will also participate as a team member in the approval process and the annual review process. In addition, they will collaborate with the school administrator and the classroom teacher to develop and implement appropriate programming for each student. The STEP facilitator will identify strategies, instructional practices, and resources for STEP students within their classrooms, in the extended learning class, and for the outside learning opportunities. In addition, the STEP facilitator will provide staff development, and direct instruction to students as needed. The STEP staff will monitor, and maintain individual student plans and progress. Then, provide quarterly reviews to the parent/guardian regarding student progress toward goals.

The STEP Program is an exciting and new development with Carden school. The components of the program are expected to be implemented over time with the classroom extended learning opportunities to be offered first. All other components of the program will be added over a period of time. Full implementation is expected by Fall of 2014.

For more information regarding:

Carden of Tucson School Talent and Excellence Program (STEP), please contact: Ms. Palmateer, STEP Facilitator, at 293-6661