Julia Wallner


Spring 2020


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Trish Harvey

Content Expert

Sue Feigal-Hitch


According to the Minnesota Department of Education, most recent statistics suggest that 11,180 of Minnesota’s students attended an Alternative Learning Center (MDE, 2018). An Alternative Learning Center (ALC) provides a safe learning environment for students who are either at risk of not graduating, or struggling to strive in a traditional public schooling system amongst a plethora of other reasons personal to a student. Many ALCs provide less traditional learning options such as project based learning and experiential learning such as work based learning opportunities (Owens, 2016). Many people think of an ALC as a place where at-risk or failing students attend and expect the school to stick to remedial education or credit recovery based learning. Regardless of whether a student is considered at-risk, or behind in credits, they may also be gifted and talented. Gifted and talented services are not typically provided at Alternative Learning Centers, yet they have students enrolled that have specific needs that are not currently being addressed by the schools. The purpose of this capstone project is to present a professional development series that introduces best practices to teach gifted and talented students in the ALC classroom in hopes that teachers will see an improvement in student motivation and participation in their classes.The following capstone project outlines a three stage professional development series. The series phases are 1) the frontloading of knowledge, 2) active practice, data collection, and reflection, and 3) data analysis and modifications. The professional development series covers five research based practices to use with gifted and talented students at an Alternative Learning Center. These best practices are curriculum compacting, acceleration, independent study, content specific ability grouping and cluster grouping. The professional development series provides teachers with planning materials and resources as well as an expert trainer to help implement best practices. After the completion of this project a reflection shows that though these best practices align with the basics of an Alternative Learning Centers goals for teaching and instruction, it may be difficult to implement into all content area courses, and should be modified based on individual school and teacher preference. (350 words)


Achievement, Grades/ Student Performance, Staff Development, Gifted and Talented Education








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