Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pushing the Envelope

Sometimes we don't push the system enough. As professional educators we need to exercise our professional judgement and discretion for the sake of our students.

As the Ministry of Education in British Columbia looks to personalize and modernize how we educate our youth, I would like suggest that the current  2004 Graduation Program can be stretched and utilized to personalize learning for our students. 

To illustrate my point, I would life to highlight four polices contained within the current Grad Program that are often underused or even misunderstood: Challenge, Equivalency, External Credit and Independent Directed Studies.

These polices recognize that learning is life-long and extends beyond any school or classroom.

Here is summary of each policy, as posted on the Ministry of Education website:

Challenge (Undocumented Demonstrated Prior Learning)

This policy describes how secondary schools award credit to students who can demonstrate prior learning. All students are entitled to undertake a free Challenge process to assess their prior learning for any Ministry developed graduation program course offered by any Board of Education in the Province that school year, as well as any Board Authorized (BAA) course taught in the enrolling district (or independent school authority) that school year.
This policy describes how secondary schools award credit to students who have successfully completed an equivalent Grade 10, 11 or 12 course from an educational jurisdiction or institution outside the BC school system.
External Credentials
This policy describes how students earn credit towards graduation through certain external credentials approved by the Ministry.  All students enrolled with a Board of Education are entitled to receive credit if they have earned a Ministry-approved credential.  There is no limit to the number of credits a student may earn by using external credentials.
Independent Directed Study (IDS)
This policy enables students to initiate their own area of learning and to receive credit towards graduation. The policy also allows schools to recognize prior learning in a Ministry-developed or board authorized course that a student may not have completed. This policy is not a student entitlement but an enabling policy intended to encourage schools to allow students to pursue further studies of interest.  IDS credits may only be used to satisfy elective requirements.
In many ways these policies do not go far enough (or are too restrictive) in terms honoring learning beyond the classroom.  Nonetheless, if we are serious about honouring the talents and abilities of all students, we need to start making the current system work for our students - right now, today!  

As professionals we need to stretch our own thinking so that, rather than blaming the system, we can use it to our students` advantage.

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