The Bamber Valley-Purdue Collaboration

Total School Cluster Grouping (TSCG) and Differentiation Model

Dr. Marcia Gentry, Dr. Matt Fugate, and Purdue University were awarded a $3.2 million-dollar Javits grant to implement Total School Cluster Grouping and Differentiation in 100 schools across America.  In spring of 2015, the Rochester Public School Board approved Bamber Valley and the Office of Gifted Services to enter into collaboration with Purdue.  A parent information and question/answer meeting was held in May of 2015.

Professional development provided by Purdue instructors and online resources began in April of 2016 and will continue throughout the five years of the collaboration and beyond. The Principal and Principal on Special Assignment for Gifted Services, will provide ongoing training at staff meetings throughout the years.  Teachers will practice what they learn in their classrooms.

Diverse grouping of students in elementary school working on desks

What is the TSCG and Differentiation model?

The TSCG and Differentiation model combines two things: 

  • teacher training from Purdue University in methodology used to differentiate and enrich instruction and
  • yearly, heterogeneous (mixed achievement levels) grouping of students into classrooms that contain fewer achievement groups.  This practice allows teachers to differentiate more effectively for fewer groups.

What are the benefits of TSCG and differentiation?

All students receive enriched, differentiated instruction that is appropriately challenging.

For twenty-five years, this model has resulted in consistently improving the achievement of students of all achievement levels.

Having three achievement groups per class instead of five allows teachers to differentiate instruction more effectively and consistently.

What are some of the benefits of the training?

Most teacher training programs include little or no training in gifted education.  Teachers will learn how to enrich and differentiate for all students.  Teachers will also learn how to recognize giftedness in students of underrepresented groups such as students on free and reduced priced lunch, minority students, and students who are twice exceptional (are gifted and have a disability). 

Will all the low achieving students and/or students with behavior concerns be placed in the same room?

No. Teachers and administrators will still have decision-making authority to place students in different classrooms.

Will all the students who are in special education be placed in the same room?

No. Again, teachers and administrators will still have decision-making authority to place students in different classrooms. 

If a teacher has several high-needs students in the room, will there be additional support?

Yes, as is the case right now, there will be support in the form of co-teaching, paras, and English language support based on students’ needs.

Isn’t this tracking?

No. Tracking is a practice in which students are grouped by ability and, year after year, cannot move up. In TSCG, students are heterogeneously placed in a homeroom on a yearly basis, and they can and do move to the next achievement level, either within the classroom or into another classroom.

What is the cost to the school/district?

The training and support are provided by a 3.2 million-dollar Federal Javits grant.

How will this impact my Parent Input Request for Classroom Placement?

With this model, teachers are able to differentiate more effectively because they have fewer achievement groups. Parent Requests will be honored as long as they are in line with the groups each particular teacher has in his/her classroom. We are confident that all of our teachers are able to meet the social and academic needs of the students who are placed into their classrooms.