What do visitors think about HSC ALSJ?

A few weeks ago, a group of teachers from Putnam High School visited HSC ALSJ to learn more about mastery-based learning. One of them wrote a blog post about his observations, and I want to share a few of my favorite parts (you can read the whole post here):

“One common theme from this conversation is that [the students] thought there was a better sense of purpose now in school.  It was less about compliance and more about learning.  Some admitted that they fell behind early since mastery learning ‘was harder.’ They did like, however, that nothing was holding them back.  If they put the time and effort in, not only could they excel, but also complete their competencies in even less than 4 years.  Some students from the school actually enroll in local college classes during their Bridge (senior) year since they have demonstrated mastery of all the learning targets.” [note: college courses are available to Focus (junior) and Bridge (senior) students]

“[Mastery-based learning] is much more visual than a traditional program and seems to do a good job of conveying both what students are excelling at as well as learning gaps that exist.”

“There are many other takeaways and questions that came from this visit, and I will touch upon those in future posts.  I do, however, want to conclude by saying how courageous this group of educators are.  Despite many of the obstacles faced with this transition, they know that at the end of the day, it is best for students.  One staff member said that the most difficult part is that it “exposes” many of the issues that exist under the surface in traditional school, yet are ignored or glossed over.  Their mastery system not only unearths these issues (particularly learning gaps), but addresses them head on in a creative, thoughtful, and courageous way.  This district is a model for those who know that our traditional approach to grading and student progression is fundamentally flawed and are seeking an alternative path.”

We were delighted to host our fellow courageous teachers. It’s clear that they are focused on providing the best education possible for their students, and we look forward to exchanging resources and ideas in the future.