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Sat Aug 12, 2017, 08:48 AM


A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry

Few middle schoolers are as clued in to their mathematical strengths and weakness as Moheeb Kaied. Now a seventh grader at Brooklyn’s Middle School 442, he can easily rattle off his computational profile.

“Let’s see,” he said one morning this spring. “I can find the area and perimeter of a polygon. I can solve mathematical and real-world problems using a coordinate plane. I still need to get better at dividing multiple-digit numbers, which means I should probably practice that more.”

Moheeb is part of a new program that is challenging the way teachers and students think about academic accomplishments, and his school is one of hundreds that have done away with traditional letter grades inside their classrooms. At M.S. 442, students are encouraged to focus instead on mastering a set of grade-level skills, like writing a scientific hypothesis or identifying themes in a story, moving to the next set of skills when they have demonstrated that they are ready. In these schools, there is no such thing as a C or a D for a lazily written term paper. There is no failing. The only goal is to learn the material, sooner or later.

For struggling students, there is ample time to practice until they get it. For those who grasp concepts quickly, there is the opportunity to swiftly move ahead. The strategy looks different from classroom to classroom, as does the material that students must master. But in general, students work at their own pace through worksheets, online lessons and in small group discussions with teachers. They get frequent updates on skills they have learned and those they need to acquire.


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Reply A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry (Original post)
SecularMotion Aug 2017 OP
treehuggnlibrul Aug 2017 #1
BigmanPigman Aug 2017 #2
Aristus Aug 2017 #3

Response to SecularMotion (Original post)

Sat Aug 12, 2017, 10:04 AM

1. This would have changed my daughter's life

She is mild to moderate dyslexic and ADD with auditory processing and anxiety being her worst obstacles to learning. She was doing too well for an IEP in elementary school, and entered middle school with gaps in her learning because there "wasn't enough time for mastery."

In third grade, her worksheets always started out well but midway through it was like she just started filling in any answer. Turns out that kids who didn't finish their work sheet had to stand against the wall at recess, and the anxiety of that made her fill in anything just to get done.

High school was a disaster. She was cutting. Spiraling down and our pleas fell on deaf ears with the administration. It was never about learning, it was about grades and homework and playing the system. Counseling, tutoring... none of it helped.

We finally moved her to a unique small high school out of our district. She graduated a year late, but she did it with sheer determination. She was changed and demoralized by her experiences in school and we are still picking up the pieces. The schools described above are growth-mindset and learning focused. She would have thrived in that environment.

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Response to SecularMotion (Original post)

Sat Aug 12, 2017, 06:39 PM

2. This was the practice in the elementary schools when I was a teacher in CA for 15+ years.

However, the kids worked in small groups with a push-in teacher as well as the regular teacher. With younger students you need many aids to supervise too since they have so much energy (it is exhausting for the adults).

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Response to SecularMotion (Original post)

Sat Aug 12, 2017, 07:24 PM

3. This is similar to the public education program in Finland,

which is currently regarded as having the best primary and secondary public education system in the world.

Teachers don't start classroom instruction until they have at least a Master's degree. The principal is also a classroom teacher, and only the teaching staff devises the curriculum. The sole purpose of the administrative staff is to ensure that the teaching staff have everything they need to teach the kids.

There are no standardized tests, minimal homework, and lots and lots of recess. Finnish teachers tell interested parties: "We value play." If a student falls behind his peers, teachers are empowered to use any teaching method necessary to help the student. Teachers often confer in large groups about how to help struggling kids.

The USA's arrogant "Not Invented Here" mentality will no doubt prevent us from ever having an education system this effective. But it's something to work toward.

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