Dumping Grade Levels
Gary Obermeyer, Sunday Mar 15, 2009, 12:00 am
It's always heartening to read or hear stories of places that are breaking with long-standing educational structures and practices in pursuit of 21st century schooling. A good example is Colorado's Adams 50 - a district in the process of dropping grade levels.
I read about Adams 50 in an eSchool News article: "Back to the future: Colorado's Adams 50 tears up the traditional model for K-12 instruction, adopts a 21st-century approach." The article reports that when students come back to school next fall, there will no longer be grade levels or grades at the elementary and middle schools. As I understand it, students will be grouped according to their performance level (which may be different for different areas of study) and will only move to the next level when they reach mastery. The plan is to phase the non-graded structure into the high school - ultimately, 10 multi-age levels will replace the traditional k-12 structure. I'm planning to follow up on this story. If you have any personal/direct experience with Adams 50, please share what you know.
November 20th, 2009 at 11:27 pm
A good idea
I have never posted to this forum before, and I am a relatively young and new administrator. I also teach technology and have I have strong notations on the effectiveness of technology in education.
This article attracted my interest. I have long thought (since I was in high school myself actually) that students should be able to progress through a class as quickly as they wish to, instead of sitting in class bored out of their minds for most of a quarter, semester, or year. If a student can master all of the objectives of a course in the first two weeks, then I believe they should be able to advance to the next course they need to master. If a student is capable of graduating high school and capable of taking college level courses when they are 15 or 16, why not let them? The opposite is true as well. If a student needs a little more time and guidance to master a concept, why not give the time and attention they need instead of trying to rush them through school like I used to rush cattle through the branding chute every spring. In my own experience I fit in both situations. While I attended high school, I grasped the concepts and understood them very quickly in most of my classes. Then I was bored. But in math and English classes, I could have used some extra help. I can’t help but wonder how many hours our students waste in a class they are forced to attend when they already have mastery of the objectives of that class. Then I think about how that time would be better spent focusing on other objectives not yet mastered.
I recently read another interesting article on the Edutopia website, titled: The 21st-Century Digital Learner. I agree with this article as well. As educators we need to be better at finding out how our students wish to learn and then providing the service that will benefit them the most.
Technology will play a huge roll in education. I dream of the day when we use technology effectively to individually track student progress, provide instruction, provide easy and timely assessment, interact with students, and improve education overall. As it is right now I don’t believe we effectively use the technology available to us.
November 22nd, 2009 at 5:54 pm
Cody, thanks so much for joining the SchoolChange.Net forum and for adding your voice to the discussion. I agree, technology will play a centrally important role in transforming education. As indicated in the Edutopia article, it already is - the only question is whether the formal education system will keep up. Finding leaders like you gives me hope that it will. Thanks so much for pointing us to the article.
I'm doing a follow-up report on Adams 50 School District's shift to standards-based learning (I was recently contacted by the superintendent). In the original eSchool article there was no mention of the role technology, nor are there any specifics on the Adams 50 SBE website.
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