Saturday, October 27, 2007

Standards in Chugach

I am always looking for working examples of a standards-based K-12 educational system. For me, this means getting away from the traditional “time-in-grade” system, where time is fixed by semesters, grading periods, etc. according to a group pace for learning. In a real standards-based system, time becomes the variable. You only pass when you complete the work. A “course” is determined by a body of work or a set of “performances” that demonstrate the skills or knowledge needed to pass. You don’t pass or fail when the course is over. Instead, the course is over for you when you complete the work. To me this is common sense. I am sure it would be for anyone who, like me, did not connect well with school. But each day I work with educators who loved school, who loved the way it worked for them, and who think of every change as another hula hoop. Most principals I know also don’t really have a practical understanding of (or frankly much interest in) changing the system. That’s why I think places like Chugach, Alaska, are important:
Read this series of articles and tell me again why standards can’t work.

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