Thoughts and updates from our staff and community.

March 20, 2017

Collaborative planning has been key to improving teaching and learning in our school buildings.  My position has me split between two schools and in order to make the biggest impact on student learning, I have chosen to spend my time ONLY doing things that make a difference for teachers and students. One of the things I choose to spend my time doing, is coll...

March 3, 2017

I’ve recently thought a lot about Ron Berger’s assertions in Leaders of Their Own Learning. As suggested by the title, we should strive to give our students agency. The greatest success I’ve had with this practice comes as my USM students and I step from semester I to semester II in our two-part course on Proficiency-Based Planning and Assessment. I ask them...

February 2, 2017

My own memories of kindergarten primarily consist of playing with blocks, putting on costumes in the dramatic play area, being home in time for lunch. Back in my hometown in 1997, kindergarten was only offered as a half-day program, and mostly entailed structured, carefully planned centers that felt simply like playtime, but that actually involved countless...

January 10, 2017

Prior to 2015, I had a very rough idea what standards-based grading was all about. My experiences were based solely on what I had heard from teacher friends who themselves were making the transition. Many of these colleagues were not given a clear understanding as to why and how to make the transition, leaving them stressed out. When the day came for my unif...

December 9, 2016

Why has the move to grade reporting using standards caused us so much anxiety? I mean, we all have standards when we are grading a project, right? Don’t we all have in mind an understanding of poor, good and excellent? Why is it so confusing for some to understand these 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s? Is it because we are not using a 100 point scale, or letter grades lik...

November 15, 2016

At the heart of effective standards based work is calibrating our understanding of what our students should know and be able to do. True calibration doesn’t happen in one planning period and it doesn’t happen in isolation. Take a careful look at the three different questions below. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

I notice that all of these questions c...

October 20, 2016

In working in three schools across the six years I’ve been in education, one thing I have learned is that proficiency-based education requires a shift in thinking. It seems as though I stick with a school long enough for teachers to hop on board the proficiency based education ship, and then I look for something new. So, here in my third time around, I have...

September 21, 2016

Diane Ravitch’s July New York Times essay, The Common Core Costs Billions and Hurts Students, lacks the nuance educators need to lead with as we confront the layperson’s hasty coupling of standardized tests with standards.

Some of Ravitch’s criticisms are accurate: the detrimental effects of NCLB through punishment of “failing schools”; misguided firings of t...

August 9, 2016

Happy high summer everyone! This is the time of year when some of us take on projects we don’t have time to tackle during the busy school year. We’d like to offer some suggestions to those of you whose summer projects include revamping or revisiting your standards bank. This list of “pain points” and corresponding suggestions come from our several years of e...

June 23, 2016

As Maine moves closer to graduating students with proficiency-based diplomas, and as Vermont continues to be guided by the Flexible Pathways Initiative for graduation, we at JumpRope maintain our interest in the evolving conversation about high school transcripts. Toward that end, a few of us attended the New England Association of College Admission Cou...

May 31, 2016

Earlier this month I wrote about the transition to proficiency for one of our Maine school districts, RSU 12. I closed that post with the promise of returning to Deb Taylor’s reflections on their transition process.

What could have gone better?

Deb admits they underestimated several things prior to the transition. She mentioned that teachers felt some anxiety...

May 26, 2016

One of the trickiest aspects of mastery-based grading is the way that scores are calculated in the system. There are pros and cons to each approach, so it’s a matter of finding the proper balance between the philosophical and the practical. JumpRope supports seven different strategies/algorithms, and it’s up to the teacher, school, or district to choose. Th...

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