This the intriguing question asked by this Time Magazine article. It looks at a proposal coming out of New Hampshire where there have been significant changes made to the educational structure. Time and Place have been replaced by knowledge and competency. It is no longer about how much time you sit in a class or for that matter what building, if any, the class is held in… but rather a focus on what the student actually knows… regardless of how, or where, that knowledge is acquired.
Add a new set of measures to move these students on to college after grade 10 and you have real reform taking place. This is not rearranging the deck chairs:
High school sophomores should be ready for college by age 16. That's the message from New Hampshire education officials, who announced plans Oct. 30 for a new rigorous state board of exams to be given to 10th graders. Students who pass will be prepared to move on to the state's community or technical colleges, skipping the last two years of high school.
Once implemented, the new battery of tests is expected to guarantee higher competency in core school subjects, lower dropout rates and free up millions of education dollars. Students may take the exams — which are modeled on existing AP or International Baccalaureate tests — as many times as they need to pass. Or those who want to go to a prestigious university may stay and finish the final two years, taking a second, more difficult set of exams senior year. "We want students who are ready to be able to move on to their higher education," says Lyonel Tracy, New Hampshire's Commissioner for Education. "And then we can focus even more attention on those kids who need more help to get there."
The model for much of this comes from the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce and their report Touch Choices or Tough Times. It is a serious and challenging clarion call about the dire need for us to break the educational mold with bold steps to shock our system of education in order for us to be competitive on a global level.
Three states have now just announced commitments to the implementation of many of the reports recommendations.
It is well worth a read.
In a related story the Boston Globe today had this to Editorial about the efforts in the Massachusetts:
EDUCATION SECRETARY Paul Reville is loath to turn his back on the major initiatives in the state's Readiness Project – a 10-year plan to create a public education system capable of sustaining middle-class aspirations into the 21st century. But plunging tax revenues argue against Reville's strategy of establishing several "beachheads" along the road from preschool to college.
In June, the Patrick administration released dozens of recommendations from his Readiness Project, including the expansion of preschool, full-day kindergarten, longer school days, the creation of semi-autonomous Readiness schools, and free tuition at community colleges. The costs of such projects won't be known for at least another month. But the need for Governor Patrick to make hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency budget cuts in October suggests that immediate new funding for education will be sparse.
The best strategy right now would be to focus on plans to lengthen the school day in poorer cities and towns where students lag their statewide counterparts. A pilot program to extend the traditional 6.5-hour school day by at least 25 percent is underway in 26 schools in a dozen mostly urban school districts. Early reports show significant improvements on MCAS scores across all grade levels. Equally important, many of the extended-day schools use the extra time not only to improve scores but to provide the enrichment courses, including art and music, that bring joy to the school day.
In spite of all we are hearing about the economy… it appears change is coming to our education system. And, I might add, not a moment too soon.