Giving Compass’ Take:
· As Superintendent of Windsor Locks Public Schools, Dr. Susan Bell has continued to shift from time and grade-based learning to mastery-based learning. In 2013, she kicked off the plan starting with middle school. The goal, as Bell explains, is to make learning more student and competency based which will provide an overall better education for the students.
· How does mastery-based learning affect youth development? How will this system affect students when applying for college?
If you’ve flown into Hartford, you’ve been to Windsor Locks. It’s an old mill town on the Connecticut River a dozen miles north of Hartford in north central Connecticut.
Like the community, the students served by Windsor Locks Public Schools have grown more diverse in 17 years that Dr. Susan Bell has been a staff member. Starting as a counselor, then principal, Bell became superintendent in 2014.
Previous Superintendent Wayne Sweeney set the stage in 2011 for updated and higher expectations. The adopted goal was “to create and sustain a community of lifelong learners where all students are engaged, empowered, and expected to achieve.”
That set the stage for a new graduate profile: Informed Thinker, Self-Directed Learner and A Collaborative Worker, A Clear and Effective Communicator, and A Responsible Citizen. Each dimension came along with a rubric describing competence in each area.
New student learning goals set the stage for a shift from marking time to expecting demonstrated mastery. In 2013, the decision was made to move the middle school to mastery based progressions. The elementary school had been using standards-based grading so it was less of a stretch than it was at the secondary level.
Read the full article about mastery-based learning at Getting Smart.
Youth Development is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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