No More “B And A Smile”

From The New Haven Independent:

When students showed up for report card night at High School in the Community, they didn’t get the usual B, C, or D. Instead, they got a 1.5 in “thesis construction” or a 2 in “plot”—and a mandate to show up for after-school help.

The new report cards, discussed with parents and students last week, come as High School in the Community (HSC) launches a bold experiment in “mastery-based learning.”

Following similar efforts in Maine and New Hampshire, teachers are restructuring their classes, report cards and even graduation requirements so that students advance only when they’ve mastered a specified set of skills.

HSC is the first school in the district—and the first the state—to embrace this new way of learning, which aims to end the “factory assembly-line” of social promotion and ensure kids graduation with skills they need to succeed. The new system is based not on seat time but on how much kids learn. Students learn at their own pace—which means they might not finish high school in four years. HSC is serving as a “flagship school” in trying out the new method for it is spread New Haven’s schools, according to Assistant Superintendent Imma Canelli.

“A B and a smile is not what we’re doing anymore,” said social studies teacher Sarah Marchesi. Instead, she found herself explaining a “daunting report card” which grades students on specific skills on a scale of 1 to 4.

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