Magazine article Techniques

Move beyond "Seat Time" and Narrowly Defined Knowledge and Skills: Part of a Yearlong Series, This Article More Closely Examines the Last Recommendation Made in ACTE's High School Reform Position Statement and Highlights Best Practices for Implementing This Recommendation

Magazine article Techniques

Move beyond "Seat Time" and Narrowly Defined Knowledge and Skills: Part of a Yearlong Series, This Article More Closely Examines the Last Recommendation Made in ACTE's High School Reform Position Statement and Highlights Best Practices for Implementing This Recommendation

Article excerpt

The ninth recommendation in ACTE's high school reform position statement is to move beyond "seat-time" and narrowly defined knowledge and skills. United States high schools operate on a well-established set of expectations for size, time of day and seasons of the year that programs and classes are offered, how instructional material is delivered, and what constitutes success in terms of the students' knowledge and skills.

Ultimately, a true standards-based approach to education requires moving away from the time-based Carnegie Unit system, which measures inputs, to one that measures outputs--demonstrating what the student has learned and can do. Until reliable assessments of student knowledge and skills are in place and accepted, there will be difficulty in letting go of the seat-time approach. A first step toward the new vision is to continue using existing standardized assessments for accountability and exit requirements, while developing and implementing performance-based demonstrations of skills and knowledge that can give a more in-depth picture of a student's skills.

School reform advocates, as well as business and industry leaders, generally agree that preparation for further education and the workplace requires more than traditional core academic skills like reading and mathematics. These skills are essential, but they are not sufficient in and of themselves. There must be a clear incentive for states and schools to also focus on the development of assessments that measure soft skills, and 21st century skills and aptitudes within students.

While nationwide moves beyond "seattime" and more broadly defined ideas of knowledge and skills are slow in coming, there are high schools that have already made the changes necessary to teach and assess students' true abilities through project-based and community-based learning opportunities.

Bringing Innovation to the Classroom

Until August 2006, Olympic High School was a typical comprehensive high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. With the beginning of the new school year, Olympic High School entered into a new era of education. Converting the 2,000 student high school into the five theme-based Olympic Community of Essential Schools was just the first step toward the goal of better preparing students for college and careers.

The process continued on October 26, 2006, when school officials, teachers, students, parents, community leaders and business partners met with IBM Global Innovation Outlook experts to rethink their notions of what students should be taught and how they could bring innovation to the classroom. Starting with the question "What would you change if you went back to high school today?" the answers were not all that surprising. At the top of the list were more relevance of education to careers, a greater need for teaching soft skills and a better understanding of 21st century skills, especially how the globalization of business and the economy affect students.

Follow-up meetings were held on teaching project-based learning and how to assess students' achievements, the importance of making community connections for resources and teaching opportunities, and using community experts as evaluators of student projects.

Despite being open less than one school year as the Olympic Community of Essential Schools, Executive Principal Pamela Espinosa has already seen "remarkable climate changes so far" in the schools. The most obvious change is the five theme-based schools that now make up Olympic High School. Each school's theme is used to encourage students to discover and pursue their passions while meeting the rigorous learning goals they have helped set.

Based on the North Carolina Standard Curriculum, each of the five schools uses traditional, as well as project-based, learning to teach students how what they are learning is relevant to their passions and to real-world careers. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.