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Administrators tout proficiency learning model

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Students showed Reynolds High School educators around Estacada High School on a Friday, Jan. 10. Flex Friday. Sophomore Delaney Alves (purple dress) introduces Reynolds math teacher Sarah Savage to  Estacada math teacher Ruth Patino.Reynolds High School educators paid a visit to Estacada High School to learn about the school’s proficiency-based learning system Friday, Jan. 10.

Estacada High School administrators said they felt complimented by the visit.

“Our data is showing, four years in a row, we’re increasing student learning,” said Estacada High School Principal Scott Sullivan. “It’s starting to get out.”

Estacada High School Vice Principal Ryan Carpenter said the visit was spent discussing Flex Fridays and the proficiency-based learning philosophy.

Carpenter said the Estacada School District was “one of the first” districts to fully adopt the proficiency learning model.

The biggest change from other learning models is that grades are based solely upon whether or not the student has met an academic benchmark.

For example, if a student spray-paints a row of lockers, doesn’t hand in math homework for a month but aces her math tests, she would probably get an A.

Though she would be separately disciplined for vandalism.

Behavior, Carpenter explained, is dropped from the academic grading system.

If the student can ace a test without doing the homework, the homework probably wasn’t necessary for her to learn what she was required to learn.

For other students, they may not be able to meet the benchmark if they don’t do the homework.

Estacada High School uses Flex Fridays to form individualized schedules for students to get extra help for subjects they struggle with. For students who do not require more time with a subject, there are opportunities for academic pursuits not covered in regular class.

The proficiency-learning model, it seems, is designed to allow for some flexibility in varied learning styles.

“It seems there’s a growing number of teachers who want to start the push for their school to become proficiency based so they wanted to come out and see what it looks like,” Carpenter said of the Reynolds teachers and administrators who visited Estacada High School.



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