2. S2950: Mandates that the RI Board of Education adopt “a competency-based/proficiency-based learning policy and a model district policy designed to increase programmatic opportunities for students to earn credits through demonstrations of competency”. (S Education; Wed, May 21)
We seem to be going through a particularly acute postmodernist words-mean-whatever-you-want-them-to-mean phase of education policy right now, largely resulting from some bad ideas about how to “market” the Common Core. With that disclaimer, “proficiency-based learning” usually means that students are “promoted” once they show they’ve mastered an area of knowledge, without being required to remain at a certain “grade level” in a curriculum area for an inflexible amount of time.
Proficiency based learning, effectively implemented, could be an effective outside-of-the-box solution for a host of education problems. It’s most significant difference from factory-model education is that very concrete incentives are created for students to learn academic material and demonstrate their mastery of it as quickly as they can, so that they can spend more time advancing in the subject areas they’d prefer to study while in school, or even complete school altogether in less time.