Change the Conversation from Points to Proficiency


“[I]t’s possible for individual teachers to include the core concepts of proficiency-based learning immediately,” Outsanding Young Educator Brad Kuntz writes in his May Education Update column. He outlines the process:

First, condense all of the standards you teach into a manageable set of learning targets phrased in a way students can understand. Provide students with a checklist of these targets. Review the targets daily to remind students which ones were covered previously and which ones you’ll be working with today. Refer to these targets each time you cover new material. Label all homework and classroom activities with a learning target so students understand the focus and can refer to the appropriate notes for a reminder of how to work with the content.

Engage students in a conversation about what it means to demonstrate proficiency. Give them opportunities to show proficiency with each target as you move through a unit. If a student does not meet a satisfactory level of performance on one target, provide another opportunity, rather than simply recording a poor quiz score in the gradebook and moving on. Before attempting the assessment again, however, the student must come in for additional support, prove he’s practiced more, or complete some enrichment activity so that he’s not just trying again before he’s ready. When students show proficiency on each learning target throughout the unit, they can move to the final assessment of that unit.

How do you get your students focused on learning, not grades?