Sunday, June 11, 2017

How diplomas based on skill acquisition, not credits earned, could change education - The Hechinger Report

How diplomas based on skill acquisition, not credits earned, could change education - The Hechinger Report:

How diplomas based on skill acquisition, not credits earned, could change education



NEWPORT, Maine — Algebra was not Kylee Elderkin’s favorite subject at the beginning of the school year.
“I was a little behind,” said Kylee, 14. “I wouldn’t understand.”
The Nokomis Regional High School ninth grader said she used to routinely miss key skills and do poorly on tests. Struggling students like Kylee might not have made it through honors algebra in the past, said teacher Ellen Payne, who has taught high school math for 11 years. Payne said she used to “lose” four or five students a year from honors algebra; they’d have to drop down a level. In lower level classes, some would have to repeat the whole course.



This year Payne doesn’t expect to lose Kylee or anyone else.
That’s due to a new teaching approach here called “proficiency-based education,” that was inspired by a 2012 state law.
The law requires that by 2021, students graduating from Maine high schools must show they have mastered specific skills to earn a high school diploma. Maine is the first state to pass such a law, though the idea of valuing skills over credits is increasingly popular around the country. “Maine is the pioneer,” said Chris Sturgis, co-founder of CompetencyWorks, a national organization that advocates for the approach in K-12 schools.



This year’s nearly 13,500 eighth graders will be the first students required to meet the changed requirements, which are being phased in gradually. By 2021, schools must offer diplomas based students reaching proficiency in the four core academic subject areas: English, math, science and social studies. By 2025, four additional subject areas will be included: a second language, the arts, health and physical education.
When such a system works, it’s meant to offer students clarity about what they have to learn and how they are expected to demonstrate they’ve learned it. Students have more flexibility to learn at their own pace and teachers get time to provide extra help for students who need it. Ideally, every diploma in Maine would signify that students had mastered the state’s learning standards.
But the law grants local districts lots of leeway in determining what students must do to prove their proficiency, which means the value How diplomas based on skill acquisition, not credits earned, could change education - The Hechinger Report:

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