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View Full Version : A Colorado school district does away with grade levels



tacitus
02-10-2009, 08:24 PM
By Amanda Paulson Amanda Paulson
Tue Feb 10, 3:00 am ET



Westminster, Colo. School districts across the US are trying to improve student performance and low test scores. But few have taken as radical an approach as Adams 50.


For starters, when the elementary and middle-school students come back next fall, there won't be any grade levels or traditional grades, for that matter. And those are only the most visible changes in a district that, striving to reverse dismal test scores and a soaring dropout rate, is opting for a wholesale reinvention of itself, rather than the incremental reforms usually favored by administrators.
...
Students help craft own lesson plans
The district is training teachers to involve students in the lesson plan in a far greater way than before the students articulate their goals and develop things such as a code of conduct as a classroom. And when children fall short of understanding the material, they keep working at it. The only "acceptable" score to move on to the next lesson is the equivalent of a "B" in normal grading hopefully showing proficiency and giving kids a better foundation as they move on to more advanced concepts. Advocates sometimes describe it as flipping the traditional system around so that time, rather than mastery of material, is the variable.


read the entire article here (http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20090210/ts_csm/agradeless)


I have my doubts that programs such as there are successful. Time will tell if the kids improve or get dumber.

Odysseus
02-10-2009, 08:59 PM
I have my doubts that programs such as there are successful. Time will tell if the kids improve or get dumber.

If they're really serious about it, it could end up working very well for smarter kids who will breeze through the material. In fact, the smarter you are, the faster you'll end up going through the curriculum and graduating. The slower kids, OTOH, will continue to labor over the same tasks for a much longer time, with some of them taking longer than 12 years to get through the program. The overall movement of kids through the school will look like a bell curve, with the extremes progressing much faster or much slower than the middle. The big issue in a few years will be how the parents of the kids on the low end and the middle react to the fast movers.

Calif Cowgirl
02-10-2009, 09:37 PM
Is this kind of going back to the school on "Little House on the Prairie"? I don't really have an opinion either way whether it is a good idea or not, but I hope it works, as this school district doesn't seem to have anything to lose by trying it. Good luck to them!!!

Celtic Rose
02-11-2009, 12:30 AM
If they're really serious about it, it could end up working very well for smarter kids who will breeze through the material. In fact, the smarter you are, the faster you'll end up going through the curriculum and graduating. The slower kids, OTOH, will continue to labor over the same tasks for a much longer time, with some of them taking longer than 12 years to get through the program. The overall movement of kids through the school will look like a bell curve, with the extremes progressing much faster or much slower than the middle. The big issue in a few years will be how the parents of the kids on the low end and the middle react to the fast movers.

Agreed. It could be very beneficial, allowing students to move at their own pace. Those who struggle can spend a little more time on the subject, while not forcing those who are quick to wait around. However, it will all depend on implementation, and I have my doubts that it will be successful in a standard classroom setting. I think you either need a very good student to teacher ratio for it to work, or a school full of children who can work well without constant direction.

I wish them luck, I doubt they can do much worse than California :p

Odysseus
02-11-2009, 11:26 AM
Agreed. It could be very beneficial, allowing students to move at their own pace. Those who struggle can spend a little more time on the subject, while not forcing those who are quick to wait around. However, it will all depend on implementation, and I have my doubts that it will be successful in a standard classroom setting. I think you either need a very good student to teacher ratio for it to work, or a school full of children who can work well without constant direction.

I wish them luck, I doubt they can do much worse than California :p

In a lot of ways, it's easier to take a group of kids who are all working on the same problem at the same pace through it, instead of having to have the bright kids sit around bored while the rest of the class gradually catches up. By the time the slowest kids have mastered the problem, the smart kids are usually done with their homework and elbows deep in something else. In a classroom of mixed ages, but with comparable academic achievements, that won't be an issue. The problem for a program like this isn't going to be the academic under-achievers, it will be managing the over-achievers. Being younger than the rest of your class pretty much eliminates you from the dating scene, not to mention sports. Plus, if a kid moves up in mid-semester, then he's going to be the "new kid" in his next class, which will also add pressure. Also, older kids may not be smarter than the younger kids who catch up to them, but they are certainly bigger, and that means that the school will have to spend a lot of time and effort ensuring that the whiz kids aren't bullied by the older kids as they move up alongside them. Plus, even if you schedule social events by age, the kids in the upper classes are going to have less in common with their age-peers, which just expands the gulf between them. That will create a lot of bright wallflowers at the dances. Managing the classes by keeping age groups together but teaching each kid based on performance will be very labor intensive (you'd need multiple instructors for each classroom).

There are no easy answers, which, come to think of it, should be the first thing taught to the kids.