Standards-based revolution in the air at GSHS | PostIndependent.com
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Standards-based revolution in the air at GSHS

There is a revolution going on at Glenwood Springs High School. A momentous change has taken place, and everyone is figuring out how to adjust. Standards-based education has just been implemented in our school this year.”The essence of standards-based education is to make it clear to everyone (students, parents, teachers, etc.) what it is that we believe to be important to teach,” said GSHS vice principal Paul Freeman. “This eliminates the ‘Julie Andrews curriculum,’ the ‘These are a few of my favorite things. … ‘ where teachers teach what they want to teach but may not cover all the essential curriculum.” Standards-based also holds the students to a national standard and makes them more accountable for learning and understanding the material taught in the classroom.There were several reasons the district decided to move to this new system. First and foremost, there were problems with the old system. Students were passing classes without fully understanding all of the concepts, and behavior was a factor in the final grade of a class, not solely academic proficiency. Not to mention that the world is changing and moving toward more of a standards-based educational mindset. “Sometimes people feel that Glenwood Springs High School is the only place in the world converting to this new system. It’s not; standards-based is a worldwide movement,” Freeman said.Now that we have begun this new method, it is up to our administration and faculty to figure out what is important to teach and in what order. They also have to establish what must be done in the classroom to determine an “advanced” student from a “proficient” one. This is perhaps the most obvious difference in standards-based from the old system: the way that grades are given. No longer will students at GSHS receive the traditional A, B, C, D or F based on a percentage grade. Now a student will be given an A, B, C or F that represents a 4, 3, 2 or 0. These letters will stand for advanced proficient, high proficient, basic proficient and not proficient. They will correlate with how fully a student demonstrates understanding of knowledge in a particular class.However, as with any dramatic change, there are some very apparent concerns and fears of the students, faculty and parents alike. Although standards-based gives students the choice to reassess tests in order to reach the grade they want and prove their knowledge, it is consequently loading students and teachers with more work outside of the classroom.There is also the concern that a 4 this year is harder to get than an A last year, said Shauna McWilliams, a junior. “It seems as if the students who got A’s and B’s last year are now working way more than they should have to in order to receive the equivalent grade; whereas the students who normally get C’s and D’s aren’t having to put in nearly as much effort with the standards-based system.” Yet, in theory, an A and a 4 should essentially be the same thing because of the fact that the students are given so many more chances for success in the classroom with reassessments.Third, in classes where every student seems to need help, the students are not getting nearly as much individual attention as they need.A last concern (and one shared by the vice principal as well) is that the 170-day school year is not enough time to get every student where they want to be. “Standards-based offers the promise that everyone can achieve, and the kids genuinely want to learn. So, it’s our job to get them there. I just hope that we have enough time in the school year,” Freeman said.Despite the concerns, the main goal for this year is to do no harm (gradewise) to the students. No one should be disadvantaged by the system. People should be getting a better education.Change is hard on everybody, but it brings growth and strength in the end. Mr. Freeman agreed: “Glenwood Springs High School has some of the brightest and best students, most supportive parents and greatest teachers around. We just have to keep working with standards-based education until everyone’s problems are worked out and questions are fully resolved.”Cassidy Willey is a senior at Glenwood Springs High School. She writes a column twice a month for the Post Independent.Cassidy Willey is a senior at Glenwood Springs High School. She writes a column twice a month for the Post Independent.


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