Performance-based learning? Traditional classroom What's the difference?

Why is MSAD 15 developing a performance-based model?
As part of our continuous improvement effort to meet the needs of all of our students and community, we recognize the benefits of the performance-based model and its connection to our district vision.

Why is continuous improvement necessary?
Our vision to prepare all students for their next steps; college, citizenship or career, require a continuous improvement model. MSAD 15 data indicates a high level of student disengagement leading to a high student dropout rate.

Why improve the student dropout rate?
Successful citizens of the 21st century must have a minimum of a high school diploma, and the skills and knowledge to navigate the ever-changing world. The performance-based model shows promise in improving student engagement, student leadership, and student success!

Where are we in the process of changing the model of the schools in MSAD 15?
MSAD is in the midst of a transformation. Since 2009, the district has been training staff, administration, and students to think about school differently. The district met with the community and developed a vision around the stakeholder's desires for education in the district. During the 2011-2012 school year, all classrooms will be implementing the performance-based, student centered model and students K-8 will begin to be asked to demonstrate proficiency in the Common Core Standards for Math. K-8 teachers will begin implementing leveling, capacity matrices, and standards based scoring for Math in the 2011-2012 school year. The Middle School will include additional content areas and will be structured so that there are multiple vertical teams. New teachers will receive training in the model prior to the start of school.

How are standards grades (4,3,2,1) different than the A,B,C or percentage grades?
Standards scoring is different because the scores reflect students' abilities to demonstrate the specified standard. Most students will be scored on measurement topics within standards. Typically, a 3 indicates that a student has proficiently demonstrated the measurement topic in some type of performance. A 2 would indicate that the student has a grasp of basic knowledge needed for the standard. A 1 would indicate that student required teacher support. A 4 would indicate that a student has performed the standard in a more complex, real-world situation that was not related to the instruction received in the classroom. The district is looking at data management systems that will help track student progress through K-12 standards. The primary difference between this type of scoring and the traditional format is that students will be more aware of what they are learning, grades will only be assigned to assessments of learning on standards, and they show the progression of learning. Assessments of different students by different teachers on the same measurement topic should be evaluating the same factors. The traditional mode of grading permits teachers to assign grades to various types of content, so students in different classes might have different expectations even when the content is identical. This scoring change is currently being evaluated by the district. It is practiced in various formats in districts nationwide. All students in K-8 will begin to receive reports of progress in this format in the 2011-2012 school year.

What will a performance-based transcript do to my child's chances of getting into college?
MSAD 15, the Maine Department of Education, and other districts across the state are working to ensure that colleges understand the performance-based transcripts that we are developing. Our collective aim is to provide opportunities for students, not impede them, so we are being diligent in our conversations with post-secondary institutions and with families. It is helpful to realize that colleges already accept transcripts that are very diverse. MSAD 15's traditional model is not necessarily the traditional model practiced by districts across the country. Colleges already recognize that there is great variance, and they know how to interpret the various transcripts. Schools supply a document called a school profile, when they send a transcript to a college. This document helps the college admissions office understand the course offerings, grading policies, and graduation expectations of the high school. This document will continue to support GNGHS students in their post-secondary pursuits. Standards-based reporting is relatively new to MSAD 15, but it is not new nationally, so colleges are making this transition with us, and students with standards-based high school transcripts are already present in the full spectrum of post-secondary options. Below are two reports that were made on this subject by other districts.

What is the advantage of grouping kids according to their ability level?
The traditional classroom often contains students who are bored, because they already know how to do what it being taught; on track, because the pace of the class meets their needs; or lost, because the delivery of instruction is too fast for their learning style. By grouping students into small ability level groups, it allows each student to move at a pace that meets their learning needs. This model is more student centered and individualized. Ability grouping will, obviously, be within acceptable age spans.

What if a middle school student is ready to take high school classes? Will they go to the high school?
There are teachers in the middle school who are certified to teach high school level content and ninth grade teachers are working with the Middle School during the 2011-2012 school year to create a format for supporting the transition to high school. Students who are ready to advance to high school standards early, may be able to do so. Individual learning plans may be utilized for specific cases.

Does performance-based mean that students "do" more and don't have to read and write as much?
The purpose of the performance is for students to be able to show that they know how to utilize what they have learned and are able to do more than answer a multiple-choice test. The performance-based model will ask students to engage in more multi-disciplinary work, but literacy in all areas will still be part of the curriculum.

How will classrooms look different?
The biggest difference will be in the way that students navigate their learning. Students should be more autonomous and responsible. Instead of a teacher standing in front of the whole class, you should expect to see a teacher working with small groups or individuals. Most adults only have experience with whole class instruction, so it may seem strange, at first, to hear your child talk about the way that he or she works in school. Small group and independent work should be the dominant learning format, with whole class instruction be more limited. Students should be able to tell you about the learning goals and which standards they are studying.

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