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Tucson school brings distinction to Arizona

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Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 4:00 am

Accelerated Elementary and Secondary Schools (AESS) was recently identified by the Washington Post as having the 6th most rigorous secondary school in America.  AESS is K-12 and includes a preschool. It is located on Camino De Oeste, west of Silverbell Road, just south of Sunset Road.

According to Serei Kay, an administrator at AESS, “AESS schools are better known by the name Accelerated Learning Laboratory (ALL) rather than the district name”.  She explained the acronym “ALL” represents the inclusive nature of the schools. She said, “Most rigorous schools like ALL are exclusive boarding schools located on the East Coast. Unlike those expensive schools, ALL is free.”  ALL is funded through the charter system and there is no tuition charge.  Serei goes on, “Then again, no other school is really like ALL.  ALL’s teaching methods are based on modern research on human learning.  In addition to training its own instructors, ALL trains teachers from schools in China, one having more than seven thousand students.  Chinese teachers spend about six months at ALL, learning ALL’s teaching techniques.  When they return to China, they teach others what they have learned.”  Ms. Kay said, “Seven years ago, ALL accepted an invitation from the government of China to discuss its methods with educators in China.  In general, U.S. students are far behind Chinese students, but ALL students are far ahead of Chinese students.”

Tucson is fortunate to have two exceptional schools earn national recognition.  According to Ms. Kay, these two schools are very different.  Ms. Kay explains, “ALL does not select students and as a result has quite a diverse population.  We believe that all students, regardless of ethnicity or family income, deserve the best educational opportunities this nation can offer.  ALL places students in multi-age, multi-grade classes based on each student’s academic level, not grade level.  This removes the ceiling effect and allows students to excel beyond grade level expectations.  After a few years at ALL, most students perform significantly higher than their grade level peers at other schools.  For example, a 5th grade student at ALL took the AP Calculus, AP Physics, and AP English Language and Composition exams.  She was one of the youngest students in America to take AP exams.  ALL does not force students to conform to a lock-step program of instruction.  ALL constructs “Student Learning Objectives” that conform to each student’s needs, intellectual gifts, and progress. Most of ALL’s graduates are accepted by highly selective universities including MIT, Princeton, Brown, and Columbia, just to name a few, and receive large financial awards.”

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