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“…The path, winding like silver, trickles on, Bordered and even invaded by thinnest moss That tries to cover roots and crumbling chalk With gold, olive, and emerald, but in vain. The children wear it. They have flattened the bank On top, and silvered it between the moss With the current of their feet, year after year…”
The Buff Learning Team
Our Path to Proficiency
adopted the term “Buff Learning
Team” (BLT) for our small academy model.
1) How we created our proficiency model
Things already in place*
First steps on the path
2) What it has meant for our teachers
Glance at a unit map
See some example assessments (and try one?)
Look at a gradebook snapshot
3) What it has meant for students
Increase in overall responsibility
Increase in achievement
4) A Tale of Two Brandons*
-Brandon 1, last year
-Brandon 2, this year
*I’m NEVER naming a future child Brandon, fyi…
-Analyzing the actual language of the standards (e.g. what level of Bloom’s taxonomy, what knowledge and skills they should be able to demonstrate)
-Creating Common Formative Assessments
Sheltered Instruction Operational Protocol
Because of our high ELL population (at least half have been categorized as ELL at some time)
Expectation of both teachers & students always knowing the goals before lesson begins
Student Engagement Strategies – mantras:
School is not a spectator sport
Everybody does everything
I do it, we do it, ya’all do it, you do it
Verbal/physical choral response
And much more!
Our principal had been hearing about “proficiency-based education” (it’s not a new idea)
Viewed it as “a necessary change that would have to happen in education;” deemed it “an idea worth exploring.”
Started sending small groups of us from the BLTs and electives to the BEC conferences around the state.
Most of us were very persuaded by the arguments for the proficiency model; the big picture made sense to most of us.
exceed = 85/100
proficient = 75/100
attempted = 1/100
NP=0/100 or just “missing.”
Lower Bloom’s = simply restate, repeat the basics
Higher Bloom’s = create new, interesting way to restate; synthesize essay’s main point with other connections to life
Key: √ = collectedM = missingNP = not yet proficient
Key: √ = collectedM = missingNP = not yet proficient
Initial time spent mapping, rubric-making, brainstorming types of assessments
Sometimes when targets are so specific, it’s hard to focus on other important details (e.g. conventions)
How to challenge all kids at appropriate level? (from early finishers to unmotivated…)
CCSS means we have to redo our process (which we started using OR standards)
Isn’t school-wide or district-wide, yet.
Consistency of grading within department, across depts.
Once assessments are made, it’s easy to plan the quarter, working backwards from the assessments.
Grading is faster and easier when the targets are so clear. Turnaround time is shorter, feedback is richer.
Kids feel they have more choice in their own educational paths and they are working at own pace.
Homework/practice work is for knowledge, not points!
I feel it’s perfected so many things we as a school and I as a teacher were already striving for.*
All our previous school reform efforts…
Align curriculum vertically
Identify power standards
Unwrap standards; develop CFAs
Use CFA data to inform instruction
Use student engagement strategies
…were not passing educational fads.
Proficiency-based grading complements everything in the other column.
An educational time saver:
What my kids know/can do
Feedback to give them
Teach starting with goals
Last year, 70% of freshmen passed English 1, semester 1
This year, 82% of freshmen passed English 1, semester 1
What’s more, of those who passed, about 6 didn’t pass until semester 2 when they finally did the missing assessments.
Of the rest, only a few are more than a couple assessments away. We expect we could have a 90% pass rate for Eng 1, Sem 1.
More clear targets
Especially for ELLs
They know what to ask
They aren’t overwhelmed by language demands
Can focus more on the one big concept until proficient; not be rushed through lots of little things
For all kids
Barely did anything; passed English with a 61% - earned credit.
Started the year strong b/c played football.
Grades went down after athletic grade checks ended; mom started bugging him.
Didn’t do practice work, or take notes, or anything.
Never wrote a complete essay, only passed a few tests.
Did or made up just enough warm-ups, notes, and homework assignments to earn 61%.
Didn’t really gain much from English; has few skills going forward.
Barely does anything; NP right now in Sem 2
Hasn’t had a great year; struggling with some identity issues, attendance issues, etc.
Won’t do practice work, or take notes, or anything.
Will do proficiency assessments, but only to the 75% level.
Is only missing a couple of those.
Comes to tutoring once a month and makes up a bunch of stuff at a time, and he knows how to show proficiency.
Confident that he WILL pass English, and with a 75% at least, and to do so, he had to write at least 3 essays, pass all major proficiency tests and projects.
I still wonder
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“The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people.”
-K. Patricia Cross