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Teacher instructs all students at the level of the top 25% of the class

LKSD Best Practice #2

Students will rise to the level of the expectations we set for them

When we teach to the top 25%... 

  • we're stretching the brains of the rest of the class

  • students will grow rather than stay low

Top 25%

  • Of the students sitting in front of us

  • NOT the top 25% of the whole school 

What it is

  • A high degree of rigor for all students

  • Differentiated instruction

  • Highly scaffolded to meet the needs of all learners

What it is NOT

  • Unachievable expectations

  • Teaching to a select group while leaving the rest behind 


The basis of LKSD BP #2 is that you're teaching to the skill level of the top 25% of students in your classroom. It does not mean you'll move on once only they understand it and thereby leave the rest of the class behind.

On a similar note, the work you assign should not be so difficult that the rest of the class is totally lost the whole time. The premise of LKSD BP #2 is that when we teach to the top 25%, the remaining 75% come up. In other words, we're stretching their brains by providing a challenging environment but not one that is impossibly difficult. 


Another way to look at this best practice is to teach at the level of the top 25% of your students but don't move on until three-fourths of the class achieves mastery. 

With that, once you finish your direct instruction and you move into your activities for the lesson, you'll be better able to pinpoint which student(s) need more personalized support. That's when LKSD Best Practice #8, use of conceptual refinement, comes into play. At the end of your lesson, you'll pull a couple of students (depending on class size) off to the side during the class session and give them that intentional support based on the skill or concept you're covering that day. Meanwhile, the rest of the class is doing independent work.

Note the difference between conceptual refinement and after school support is that CR occurs during the class block and is focused on the unit at present. Comparatively, after school programs are more broad and RtI in nature.

Focus on the top 25% in each content area! For example, a student may be strong in language arts but weak in math, so it's important for teachers to reassess on a regular basis and consider each content area separately.

Using Data to Inform Instruction

Using data is a good way to inform your planning, track students' growth, and determine bilingual pairs. The district testing coordinator- Andy Gillilan, put together this site to support our teachers in accessing and interpreting testing data.

Click here to visit the LKSD Assessment site 
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