Don't Ever Stop | Changing Winds Shift the Direction of the Fire!
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Changing Winds Shift the Direction of the Fire!

  |   PersonalIzed Mastery

In April of 2016, DES worked with a district that wanted to become more standards-driven. We worked with the administrative team to develop their “We Believe” statements that included students taking more ownership of their learning.

We believe…

  • All students can learn to proficiency or above.
  • Learning is a constant process fostered by a growth mindset.
  • Students own their learning through voice and choice.
  • Learning motivates learning.
  • Students must have a clear understanding of their learning goals.
  • To achieve academic success, learning, assessment and instruction must be aligned and driven by the standards.

Assessing Philosophy (DRAFT)

  • Assessments must be driven by standards and aligned with instruction so that they give an accurate picture of student learning.
  • Students can re-take assessments to demonstrate learning.
  • Formative assessments support the learners’ understanding of where they are and where they need to go.
  • Assessment results drive programmatic decisions to support learning.
  • Students and teachers use assessment results to adjust personalized learning goals based on achievement of standards.
  • Common assessments promote equity, consistency and learning for all.
  • Students will have opportunity for voice and choice in how they demonstrate mastery of standards.

Philosophy of Grading (DRAFT)

  • An academic grade represents a clear and accurate indicator of what a student know and can do in relationship to academic standards. (Not behavior, homework, attendance, late work)
  • Grading practices must be consistent and transparent through the use of grading tools districtwide.
  • Grades can be continuously improved by providing additional evidence of learning.

Philosophy of Reporting Student Learning (DRAFT)Reflects how a student is progressing academically in relationship to proficiency in/of/on/against state standards.

Philosophy of Recording Student Learning (DRAFT) Recording of student learning provides a continuous body of evidence that communications to all stakeholders a diagnosis of strengths/weaknesses in areas of academic learning achievement based on state standards.

After drafting these statements, in the fall of 2016, the district began working with Great Schools Colorado to begin a Personalized Competency journey.  They built on their initial We Believe statements and adopted these ten Guiding Principles (paraphrased for this blog):

1 All learning expectations are clearly and consistently communicated to students and families…

2 Student achievement is evaluated against common learning standards and performance expectations that are consistently applied to all students…

3 All forms of assessment are standards-based and criterion-references and success is defined by the achievement of expected standards…

4 Formative assessments measure learning progress during the instructional process and used to inform instructional adjustments…

5 Summative assessments evaluate learning achievement  and a record a student’s level of proficiency

6 Academic progress and achievement are monitored and reported separately  work habits, character traits and behaviors…

7 Academic grades communicate learning progress and achievement to students and families…

8 Students are given multiple opportunities to improve their work when they fail to meet expected standards.

9 Students can demonstrate learning progress and achievement in multiple ways through differentiated assessments…

10 Students are given opportunities to make important decisions about their learning which includes contributing to the design of learning experiences and learning pathways.

This led to defining their 9-12th grade graduation competencies and the performance indicators for k-2nd, 3-5th and 6-8th grades that are the graduation building blocks.  They also created scoring criteria in which students can meet these performance indicators through multiple pathways. Students are able to meet the performance indicators anytime within the grade spans.

Our work has been to blend personalized standards-based education with personalized competency-based education.  We have continued to support classrooms having a student-led culture where students have voice and choice.  Some classrooms have used personalized tools such as a shared vision, code of collaboration, standard operating procedures and a parking lot to give student ownership.

DES developed proficiency ladders and bar charts to support students owning their learning by tracking their progress on the standards.  A proficiency ladder is a student tool in which students identify their current level of learning through pre-assessment and learn at their own pace until they are proficient or better on a grade-level standard.  Teachers have innovated this tool to document the results of a pre-assessment, show evidence of learning through choice projects and validate proficiency through a summative project or post-assessment.

With the district now defining their competencies, faculty are having to adapt their mental model from being standards-based to competency-based.  DES has begun to bundle the standards into projects that support multiple competencies within a grade span.  This involves creating a tool that students will see how they can meet (“double dip”) multiple performance indicator with one project.  An example of this is a persuasive writing project that involves reading, research, writing, and presentation that included 11 performance indicators.

We continue to support staff on a monthly basis as they shift their mental models from standards to competencies and performance indicators and from age-based grade levels to grade spans.

AUTHOR - Copper Stoll