Hodgkins Elementary in Westminster, Colorado groups children together based on their ability not on their age. There are no grades and no grade levels.
As the Adams County School District was on the academic watch list, the educators were eager to try an alternative form of educating the students. Thus, three years ago, the district founded the Standards-based learning system with the premise that every child learns in different ways and at different speeds.
Children work at their own level in each subject and must demonstrate proficiency in various learning targets, achieving a score of 75% or higher before they’re allowed to move on to the next level.
And the students move up to the next level when they are ready, not just at the end of the school year.
And older children at lower levels will be given extra help.
This process of education was first developed by the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition, a nonprofit organization that helped turn around a small, struggling school district in Alaska. Students there went from 0% attending college to nearly 90% going on to secondary education or the military.
A few benefits to this program are
- children aren’t frustrated with work that is too hard or bored by work that is too easy.
- the kids are empowered by knowing exactly what they should be working on.
- the children decide when they feel ready to move to the next level.
- discipline problems decreased.
- children at lower levels seek assistance from children at a higher level and those at the higher levels benefit from learning to explain and teach.
However, it could take 3 – 5 years before actual results will be reflected in improved test scores.