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“As we work to improve our accelerated learning programs, promote desegregation and increase access to rigor within our schools, we are proposing ... the gradual phasing out of the self-contained elementary gifted programming," Susan Zola wrote in a Friday letter to families.

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CHAMPAIGN — Champaign school district administrators are set to propose a phase-out of the elementary-school gifted program at Monday’s school board meeting, according to a letter Friday from Superintendent Susan Zola to families.

In the letter, Zola identified declining enrollment numbers and the lack of diversity in those classes as the reasoning for the proposed shift.

“As we work to improve our accelerated learning programs, promote desegregation and increase access to rigor within our schools, we are proposing changes to our gifted education program,” she wrote. “Based on this and the work of the strategic plan, district administration will recommend the gradual phasing out of the self-contained elementary gifted programming” to the board.

According to the district’s 2020 Illinois State Board of Education report card, 4.4 percent of its White students were identified as gifted, compared with 1.2 percent of Black students, 1.2 percent of Hispanic students and 12.3 percent of Asian students.

Students currently in gifted classes will “see little to no change,” Zola said, and they’ll stay in the same building, “provided that staffing is available.”

“Unit 4 remains committed to serving all students and meeting students’ learning needs by increasing access to our most rigorous learning opportunities, strengthening our use of differentiated instruction and building long-lasting school and family relationships,” Zola wrote. “We believe that these are vital steps in helping us provide a more inclusive and equitable educational experience.”

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