Do the Traditional Grade Levels Still Work for Today’s Students?

In my last post, I asked a few questions related to standards-based and competency-based education. The second question was “Do the traditional grade levels still apply in our century?”

Rather than answer the question outright, I thought I would just pose some more questions.

  1. When we group children by age, are we doing a disservice to them by not exposing them to social groupings they would encounter in the real world, which are comprised of people of all ages?
  2. Does social promotion really help a child, or is it just a way to move a child through the system without regard for his or her academic progress and readiness to learn?
  3. If we did adopt a competency-based education framework for our school(s), would we have to leave behind the notion of grades, especially in the secondary schools? Would that work?
  4. Would it be better to offer classes based on competency, such as what they would offer in college, at the secondary level? In other words, rather than take “Ninth Grade English,” why not offer “Composition 101” to all students?
  5. [pullquote]If we changed to SBE or CBE, would our secondary education count for more than a stepping stone to college? Would those who do not have a college degree become more “employable,” and not need to go to college to get a good job?[/pullquote]Does it really matter if a child graduates high school at 17, 18, 19, or 20 as long as he or she graduates and can demonstrate mastery of the standards and competencies prescribed by that district? What does it tell us about the curriculum if it is rigorous enough that students are not graduating “on time”?
  6. If we changed to SBE or CBE, would our secondary education count for more than a stepping stone to college? Would those who do not have a college degree become more “employable,” and not need to go to college to get a good job?
  7. Would CBE allow teachers to really focus on a select set of competencies for each course instead of a wide array of standards?
  8. Would extending the school year make sense if we moved toward CBE?

Those are the questions I have come up with on this New Year’s morning. On that note, I want to wish everyone who reads this a very happy new year.

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