Proficiency promotion

Students will progress from one level to the next when they achieve proficiency — not when they get a year older — in a Colorado school district called Adams 50. From the Denver Post:

Students will be tested this spring to determine their proficiency in reading, writing and math, and will be grouped next year with peers who are learning at the same level.

Students may move to the next level at any time, not just the end of the year or the end of a semester.

Several schools are piloting the idea.  Kim Carver, a first-grade math teacher, says the new approach is working.

Six-year-old Dominic Herrera showed (a capacity matrix) on the subject of counting pennies. On the chart were four categories: “I need help,” “I think I can,” “I know I can” and, finally, “I can teach it.”

Dominic had reached the “I know I can” level and was onto the next category, telling time in five-minute intervals. He was at the “I think I can” level.

“It’s neat that they have ownership, and they know what proficiency means,” Carver said. “It’s not arbitrary anymore.”

Eventually, the district plans to use 10 levels for students from kindergarten through high school.

The plan requires specific learning goals and close tracking of students’ progress, which I suspect will be very helpful. But kids who progress slowly will need something extra, such as mandatory summer school, to complete school by 18 or 19.

Grade levels are a subtle form of child abuse, writes Paul B on Kitchen Table Math.

Imagine if someone made you wear the wrong size underwear every day for 13 years; not very comfortable and not likely to turn you into a clothes horse.

Grouping students by standards mastery is working in Chugach, Alaska, he adds.

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