Unit Design in a Proficiency-Based Learning System
by: Linda Jacobson @lrj417
Newer designs accommodate instructional needs and teach students time management skills.
With more schools shifting some portion of student learning to online platforms, administrators and teachers are finding that the traditional six- or seven-period day in high schools and some middle schools no longer meets their needs. Just as schools are redesigning spaces to accommodate today's learners, they are also implementing innovative schedules that allow for the type of flexibility that both students and teachers want.
Many schools in hard-hit economic areas, in both urban and rural settings, struggle just to graduate their students from high school, let alone implement innovative instructional models that develop students' deeper learning skills, such as the ability to solve complex problems, collaborate, communicate, and direct their own learning. Despite numerous challenges, New Technical West High School (New Tech West) in Cleveland, Ohio, is doing precisely that by implementing an instructional model focused on research, analysis, and interdisciplinary inquiry that empowers students to personalize their learning and graduate from high school prepared for college and a career.
State standards provide the foundation - the grade-level learning progressions that teachers use to design their curriculum - but schools determine how standards will be implemented, including which standards must be met In an ideal world, every student would meet every standard. But the reality is that teachers may not have the time to address every standard as comprehensively as they might want to, and not every student will master every standard. Mastery-Based Learning Simplified recommends that schools prioritize the most essential knowledge and skills, and then work backward to design the curriculum. By using prioritization and the principles of backward design, schools can certify achievement of essential standards and significantly increase college and career preparation.