Ten Principles of Proficiency-Based Learning

Originally posted on CompetencyWorks:

The principles were created by the Great Schools Partnership. To fully appreciate term nuances, you might want to follow the links to the GSP “Glossary of Education Reform” website. Philosophically I find little to argue with here but, as always, it’s seldom the principles that are in dispute. No, it’s the method by which they are implemented. These 10 principles are intended as, “a good resource for states, districts and schools to start the conversation about the new policies and practices that need to be put in place”. Great intention, however, our experience has been that the conversation starts and stops at the federal or state level where implementation becomes dictatorial or at best threatening. GSP tries to take a neutral position on the controversial elements of the principles. For example, browse to the Summative assessments link and at the very bottom of the page is the following:

Debate

While there is little disagreement among educators about the need for or utility of summative assessments, debates and disagreements tend to center on issues of fairness and effectiveness, especially when summative assessment results are used for high-stakes purposes. In these cases, educators, experts, reformers, policy makers, and others may debate whether assessments are being designed and used appropriately, or whether high-stakes tests are either beneficial or harmful to the educational process. For more detailed discussions of these issues, see high-stakes test, measurement error, test accommodations, test bias, score inflation,standardized test, and value-added measures.

  1. All learning expectations are clearly and consistently communicated to students and families, including long-term expectations (such as graduation requirements and graduation standards), short-term expectations (such as the learning objectives for a specific lesson), and general expectations (such as the performance levels used in the school’s grading and reporting system).
  2. Student achievement is evaluated against common learning standards and performance expectations that are consistently applied to all students, regardless of whether they are enrolled in traditional courses, pursuing alternative learning pathways or receiving academic support.
  3. All forms of assessment are standards-based and criterion-referenced, and success is defined by the achievement of expected standards, not relative measures of performance or student-to-student comparisons.
  4. Formative assessments evaluate learning progress during the instructional process and are not graded; formative-assessment information is used to inform instructional adjustments, practices, and support.
  5. Summative assessments evaluate learning achievement and are graded; summative assessment scores record a student’s level of proficiency at a specific point in time.
  6. Grades are used to communicate learning progress and achievement to students and families; grades are not used as forms of punishment or control.
  7. Academic progress and achievement is monitored and reported separately from work habits, character traits, and behaviors such as attendance and class participation.
  8. Students are given multiple opportunities to retake assessments or improve their work when they fail to meet expected standards.
  9. Students can demonstrate learning progress and achievement in multiple ways through differentiatedassessments, personalized-learning options, or alternative learning pathways.
  10. Students are given opportunities to make important decisions about their learning, which includes contributing to the design of learning experiences and personalized learning pathways.
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