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Levels of Service

What is Levels of Service?

Many experts in the field of education have called into question why we often provide enrichment opportunities only to our identified gifted students. Traditionally, gifted education programming has consisted of high-interest and dynamic options such as chess and robotics clubs, hands-on problem solving and creativity programs like Odyssey of the Mind and Inventor's Fair, and differentiated curriculum that allows students to learn through interests and learning preferences. Leaders have asked, "Don't all children deserve this level of programming?" On the other hand, if all students deserve to learn in an enriched, differentiated curriculum and to develop unique talents, what do gifted or advanced learners need? How do we provide programming that shares with all students the best practices from gifted education while recognizing some students truly have advanced learning needs?  How do we meet those needs while raising the levels of achievement for all students? Levels of Service is a progressive answer to these questions.

Levels of Service is:

  • A school-wide model
  • A commitment to deliberately developing talent in all students
  • A system that evaluates and meets the needs of students with advanced learning needs, promotes and supports differentiated instruction for all students, and puts the focus on what our students can do
  • A process of organizing and harnessing community resources
  • A challenge to incorporate creative thinking, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision making on a daily basis (Treffinger et al., 2004)
  • Proven to be effective across the country in large, multicultural, urban school districts

Levels of Service is not:

  • Just for advanced learners
  • A model that promotes the belief that all children are gifted or advanced
  • The end of "gifted education"
  • A wild, new, untested model
  • A pull-out program 

In 2016, Lake Harriet Community School Upper and Lower campus teachers learned how to develop levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 of service for our advanced learner students as well as how to differentiate their instruction to better meet the needs of all learners. We are doing this in partnership with the MPS Talent Development Department. Staff worked in teams and had the opportunity to receive the MPS Advanced Learner Certificate. Staff who have joined since then have also had the opportunity to receive that training and participate with the rest of the staff in ongoing workshops concerning differentiation.