If you went to school in the U.S. at any time from the early 1900s to the turn of the century, you might be familiar with a report card that looks something like this:
To follow suit with the ever-changing educational system, the U. S. is now considering a new way of presenting academic achievement. It is called the common core. Through the common core, many states will be expected to adopt common core curriculum maps that supposedly create a common framework for students across every region of the Nation. These curriculum maps would, in theory, align achievement standards across states so that every student would have the same learning expectation according to their grade level.
Now, I am not sure on how all of this will work out, but I do remember something like this happening in the past. I remember a very old but very wise Teacher instructing His students in a very commanding way. His classroom management, methodologies, pedagogy and tactics were rarely questioned and yet, his standards were so high that almost all of his students were expected to reach high and push themselves to achieve greatness. His report card looked a bit like this:
1. You shall not have strange gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
3. Remember that you keep holy the sabbath day.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. Neither shall you desire his wife.
(Exodus 20: 1-17) taken from http://www.newadvent.com at http://www.newadvent.org/bible/exo020.htm#vrs3 on 1-28-11
Then, His Son came along. If you are a Teacher and you have children, you know how much your instruction changes when your own child comes into the picture. For this wise sage, it was no different. His Son lived up to every one of His Father’s expectations and, as a result, was able to teach the rest of His classmates how to do the same. In fact, He translated the first report card and made it easier to understand without sacrificing its original rigor. After the modifications were made by His Son, the wise Teacher’s Report card looks a bit like this:
1. “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.”
2. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12: 29-31)
According to commoncore.org,
“The No Child Left Behind Act has increased the amount of time schools devote to basic reading and math skills, squeezing core subjects out of the classroom. Because schools are sacrificing the subjects that open students’ minds and teach them to think critically and imaginatively about the world, we’re working to restore teaching of core academic disciplines. Only a complete liberal arts education will enable today’s students to become tomorrow’s well-prepared citizens.”
Schools might be “sacrificing subjects that open students’ minds,” but God sacrificed His Son to open our, His children’s, hearts. If we really want our students to become “tomorrow’s well-prepared citizens,” we must first accept the Wise Teacher and His Son and make their Spirit the guiding force of our service to others. Perhaps then we can truly understand what it means to become part of a common core.
Think about what it would be like if our schools had no grades, no tests, no quizzes, and almost no homework. Sounds like a dream for students and perhaps for some of us teachers as well right? Well, these types of Dream schools are popping up across the United States recently, and they seem to offer their students something that every teacher wishes for their students to have: a passion for learning.
The MET school in Providence R.I. is one of these schools. They boast that 80% of their graduates continue on to an accredited college or university with the majority of that population graduating within five years from those institutions.
But just how do they get to college if they are given no tests? How are they assessed?
Along with the community, these students create projects alongside their school advisor and a mentor from the community with whom they work through an internship. After experiencing the real world learning environment hands on, they present their projects orally along with a written portfolio which is then given approval by the advisor. This form of assessment happens after every nine weeks.
Once the student becomes a senior, they are expected to complete the same standardized testing requirements to enter into the college or university level. According to their statistics, they usually earn a higher score on these tests than the other two Rhode Island public school systems.
Numerous schools are adopting this model of no grades and no tests and opting for a more hands-on, real world approach to learning. In Newark, they are proposing the No grades based schools for alternative education students. Compass Rose Academy, a private school of Florida is also going the no grade route to enrich their students learning. These are just a couple of schools who have decided to go through with this model. Several more are looming in wait to see just how these systems pan out in the future.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!