Advancing Inquiry and Meaning (AIM)

History of AIM

Prior to 2020, AIM was known as ALP (Advanced Learning Program) and leaned more heavily towards a gifted program.  Students were placed in the program based on test scores and were served by ALP teachers in Literacy and Math, primarily as pull-out programs.  Beginning in 2019, a learning team convened to study the practices of the district as compared to research-based best practices in the field of acceleration and gifted education. Key characteristics of acceleration programs and conclusions drawn from our program review are detailed below.  In March 2020 recommendations were made to the Skokie School Board of Education to shift the program so that it served a larger scope of our student population through a talent development model. 

Key Characteristics of Acceleration Programs

  • Shift from Gifted Education to Talent Development Programs
  • Shifts in Identification Practices:
    • Multiple and varied assessments (tests, observational data, rating scales) that are  appropriate to students’ cultural backgrounds and language
    • Multiple pathways to entry and multiple points of entry
  • Programs and Services:
    • Provide challenge and enriching learning experiences as early as preschool
    • Create preparatory programs that frontload challenging curriculum and/or screening tools
    • Fill in gaps/find students earlier- 
      • For students of poverty, neural pathways begin to atrophy the longer students wait to be identified for services.  

ALP Program Review Conclusions

  • The ALP population did not reflect district demographics.
  • The ALP program was exclusive. 
  • Measurements used for placement into ALP were not varied or culturally relevant.
  • The district did not have consistent K-2 programming across the three elementary schools.
  • The district had limited opportunity to close knowledge/skill gaps for primary students.
  • There was inconsistency in the delivery model for K-5 and 6-8 students. 

Current AIM Programming

AIM Vision Statement

District 68 believes academically talented children are present across all cultural groups and economic strata.  These children possess advanced performance capabilities that translate into specific educational and social-emotional needs.  The Advancing Inquiry and Meaning (AIM) program is committed to providing flexible, rigorous, and differentiated learning experiences that enhance students’ intellectual curiosity. 

Inquiry Based Instruction 

Inquiry based learning is a learning process that engages students in making real-world connections to content by asking questions and using critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving as part of content exploration.  While Science content has historically been the area most associated with inquiry based learning, all content areas are natural fits for this type of learning.  Social Studies standards in Illinois now have embedded inquiry standards built into them.  

AIM teachers will primarily focus on embedding inquiry based learning into teaching and learning so that all students have opportunities to activate their intellectual curiosity.  

Kindergarten - Fifth Grade Services:

  • AIM teacher pushes into each classroom during a portion of the school year to support inquiry based instruction through Social Studies content. 
  • AIM teacher may provide support in other subjects (i.e. Math) as necessary for students who demonstrate need through classroom assessments and teacher observation. 

Sixth - Eigth Grade Services: 

  • Inquiry based learning experiences provided across Reading/Language Arts and Social Studies classes. 



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