Focus on Learning

Here is an excerpt from Brad Kuntz’s ASCD Education Update article:  Focus on Learning, Not Grades, May 2012, p. 3

“I used to hear this often from students:  ‘I didn’t do very well on the test.  Is there any extra credit I can do to raise my grade?’ Or: ‘I’m so close to a B in class, how can I earn some more points?’ Less often did students inquire about improvement upon a particular component of the unit’s content.

The past decades of education have trained students and teachers to focus on grades rather than learning.  Unfortunately, grades are generally an account of points earned through various activities that are influenced by aritficial deadlines, grade inflation, extra credit, and subjectivity.  It’s time for us to change the student mind-set currently focused on reaching a particular percentage and instread empower them to take charge of their learning and measure their own success.

Proficiency-based education focuses on specific learning targets and the demonstration of a student’s proficiency with the content.  It allows students multiple opportunities to prove their understanding, and incorporates flexibility for individual learners rather than pushing all students through the content at the same pace regardless of their comprehension of the material.  It creates a partnership between the teacher and student with regard to a student’s progress, and it increases a student’s ownership of her own learning.  At that point, grades actually do indicate what a student has learned and is able to do.”

Suggestions:
–Put the standards into learning goals for students to understand
–Provide students with a checklist of these target goals
–Review these targets daily and each time you cover new material
–Label all homework and classroom activities with the learning target so students understand the focus
–Give the students opportunities to show proficiency on each target
–If they don’t meet a satisfactory level of performance, provide another opportunity

Discussion Question:  Please share any strategies you currently use that match up with this proficiency-based system.

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