Guess Who’s Assigning The Homework Now

From the New Haven Independent:

Solanlly Canas had to tackle some tough math problems at home—and she had herself to thank.

Canas (at right in photo), a senior at High School in the Community (HSC), assigned herself the homework, factoring polynomials, last week.

She brought her work into Riley Gibbs’ Room 208 at the Water Street magnet school, where a new experiment is taking place to reimagine high school education.

It was a new breed of math class—one where kids assign themselves their own homework, learn at their own pace, and take tests only when they’re ready.

Gibbs is one of the first teachers at HSC to take the plunge into “independent pacing”—which re-invents the idea of a normal “class” where a teacher guides all students at the same speed.

The new method, which all teachers are expected eventually to adopt under an HSC “turnaround” plan, is part of a quest to end the factory “assembly line” of high school education. Starting with the first-year students, the 250-student school is getting rid of social promotion and insisting kids master skills before moving up to the next level. Teachers are also free to re-invent curricula, now that the school has been tapped as a turnaround directly managed by the teachers union instead of the school district’s central office. It’s all part of the newest—and what may be the most experimental and far-reaching—plans to turn around failing schools under New Haven’s citywide reform drive.