For public schools to be innovative, it helps to have a competitive education market surrounding them. Then, schools are on the lookout for ideas that are truly new. Otherwise, a school can dress up a tired old idea in fancy language and pass it off as something original, because there aren’t any competitors to call its bluff.
Oregon, as I’ve written in my coverage of charter schools there, is holding on as tightly as it can to its education monopoly. That’s glaringly obviously when you examine the “innovative” ideas that Oregon’s traditional districts have come up with.
This article gives an enthusiastic account of “proficiency-based learning”:
Transparency is key in credit for proficiency. Students are told what they are expected to learn and how assignments or lessons help meet those goals. Report card grades are determined by what a student knows, rather than by absences, tardies or extra credit, which traditionally factor into grading.
So this special method involves telling students what they are expected to learn. In every class I’ve been in, we called that a syllabus. And yes, attendance and extra credit do factor into grades at many schools, but no school with a decent grading system will give an “A” just for showing up and doing extra credit. I hope that attendance didn’t make up such a large fraction of a student’s grades in Oregon that leaving it out of the equation could be called a radical change.
If grading based on knowledge is a new idea, what will they think of next? Studying the textbooks?