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PAACE Academy Brings Unique Offerings to Advanced Learners

This year, Personalized Acceleration and Career Exploration (PAACE) Academy has been a large focus across the district. Gifted Intervention Specialist Dustin Tyler leads the program and shared answers to some commonly asked questions: 

What is the PAACE program? 

The PAACE program stands for Personalized Acceleration and Career Exploration. The program is designed to serve students that have been identified as gifted in the areas of reading and/or mathematics. We also frequently include students who have demonstrated a need for an expanded curriculum and extended learning opportunities in some of the courses.   

How often do you meet? 

Flexible groupings and times are used for the PAACE Academy. Our philosophy is to always let the instruction drive the schedule. Therefore, PAACE courses will vary greatly in terms of length and frequency of meetings. They are also designed for students to have independent work that can be completed during their general education classes. The number of PAACE courses offered may vary from year to year based on opportunities and resources that are identified in our community.   

How many students are involved? How are students chosen to be part of this program? 

The students that have a Written Acceleration Plan or a Written Education Plan are automatically offered all PAACE courses available to their grade level. These students are identified using one of the assessments approved by the Ohio Department of Education. We then review other achievement data and teacher recommendations to identify additional good candidates to be added to a PAACE course. 

What kinds of things do students do throughout the program? 

We have made great gains in our ability to serve the unique needs of our gifted and advanced learners this year and are looking forward to continued rapid growth of the program in the upcoming years. Students in the program are given the opportunity to explore topics that they find interesting. They also participate in deep dives into careers that are lesser known to young students in our area. In addition, they are challenged to think critically about a variety of issues, work together to solve unique problems and hone their communication skills through correspondence, publication and public speaking. PAACE courses are designed to replace general classroom work rather than add on to a student’s regular workload.   

What is your role within the program? 

My role is to oversee the development of this program and ensure compliance with the mandates from the state and district. I am currently helping to build a testing structure that ensures we are providing appropriate opportunities for all students to be assessed for gifted identification. I am also tasked with designing learning opportunities that are engaging and support students in becoming independent thinkers. In addition, I provide professional development for teachers and serve as a district point of contact for gifted students and their families.  

How does this program prepare students for their future? 

We focus on developing not only the content knowledge, but also soft skills that students will need to be successful in any path they select during their educational journey.  We recognize that each gifted student has unique strengths and needs. Our program works together with families to help support students as they develop personal agency and determine their own path to success.