Just read a great article Four years later, a district’s standards-based reform evolves and pays off which tells a great story that I want to share.  The story by EdNEws Colorado begins:

“In 2009, a Colorado school district in turnaround took a leap: it abandoned traditional K-12 grade levels and instead implemented a system that advances students based on how well they do rather than how long they sit in class.

Administrators and teachers staked the struggling district on the “standards-based education” gamble, and four years later — after lots of tinkering — it looks like they won.”

This extensive article provides lots of detail about the Adams 50 School District’s “competency-based system”.  The district has 10,000 students who “advance through academic levels once they demonstrate competency in the subject, not once the school year is over. When school starts again, students pick up where they left off.”

This is exciting.  The article brings my readers up to date on this trend toward proficiency-based teaching and learning and refers to the proficiency-based program in Chugach, Alaska that I’ve discussed in earlier blogs.  The article showed that there were bumps along the way but shows that four years after they started things have improved and district-wide gaps have been closing.

What we should all be happy about is that this new improved approach really works.  The article says, “Perhaps most importantly, administrators and teachers say the system addresses the achievement gaps more easily ignored in traditional education systems, because students can’t progress until they’ve demonstrated proficiency — and the system allows schools to narrow those gaps sooner rather than later.”  That is good news!

Posted by Mr. Mark Siegel on Thursday May 30, 2013 at 05:51PM

I just read an Education Week article with the headline High School Redesign Gets Presidential Lift.   It cites President Obama’s February 12 State of the Union Speech in which he said  “[t]onight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy.”  Great!  Our high schools must be designed, shifting them from factory-model schools to proficiency-based schools!

The article says that “Recognition is widespread that high schools need to change to engage students and prepare them for the workforce of the future. That push goes back decades, but now momentum is accelerating, and talk is not of reform, but redesign.”  That is all I have been talking about  shifting from factory-model time-based schools to proficiency-based schools.

Someone else agrees with me!  “There is a realization that our high schools were designed for another time and era,” said Joe DiMartino, the founder of the Center for Secondary School Redesign, based in West Warwick, R.I., and the author of Personalizing the High School Experience for Each Student.   I love it!  

If you read the article, you will learn more about personalized learning, project-based learning, proficiency and competency-based grading, and other efforts in the right direction.  In the side-bar article, I read that “New Hampshire began to offer credit based on competency over seat time in 2008, and schools started phasing in the changes.”  Yippee.  And in discussing one of the schools that switched, it said “the test scores are clear: Pittsfield has gone from being among the five lowest-performing high schools in the state to near the top in math, and reading is also improving.”

There is more to glean from the article.  DiMartino said, “For schools to truly be able to change, there needs to be a move away from seat time and testing to new approaches to engage students,..and to competency-based learning that uses a variety of assessment instruments, such as student exhibitions of their learning.”

I am always learning more about the shift for proficiency, and I found that “[e]fforts to reinvent high schools date back decades. One of those was the NASSP’s 1996 release of the “Breaking Ranks” framework for school improvement and an updated version of the initiative in 2003. It outlined three core areas that must be addressed for student performance to improve: collaborative leadership; personalization of the school environment; and curriculum, instruction, and assessment.”

The article concludes with a discussion of common themes and principles, and I really liked two of them.  One was “Personal connections and engagement: There has been a move away from large traditional high schools to smaller personalized ones (or at least teams within a big school) where students can feel a sense of belonging.”.  Other was “[l]everaging technology and data for individualized learning: Personalization in learning, through the use of technology, means students can move at their own pace and feel a sense of empowerment in their education.”

I have been speaking about proficiency to both national and international audiences recently, and I’ve been asked (or allowed…[smile]) to give talks and workshops on this topic to school faculty as well as parents on this vital topic over the next year.  The response is uniformly positive and I get invitations to speak in additional venues.  I mention this because there is something that resonates with parents and students, teachers and administrators when I explain it.  I thought it might be useful to summarize how I start my talks.

You and I probably went to an old school, where time was constant and learning was the variable.  You know – 50 minutes of Algebra for 180 days.  Some students got it some of the time – everyday some were bored and some were lost, but as a class we moved ahead regardless of our test scores from last week’s test.  But Delphian is a new school, where learning is the constant and time is the variable.  We are all about personalized and individualized education where students proceed only when they reach proficiency on their current studies.  This shift from seat-time Carnegie Units to progressing upon reaching high levels of proficiency or competency is happening all across the country and all around the world.  It may be new to some, but we’ve been doing it for 39 years!  

Hope you find it helpful.

Posted by marks on Friday April 19, 2013 at 09:15AM

This just in!  The US Dept of Ed just issued a press release “Education Department Releases Guidance on Providing Title IV Eligibility for Competency-Based Learned Programs”.

The news is that colleges “that offer competency-based programs in which students learn at their own pace – but that currently do not offer federal student aid” can do so.  [Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 provides federally funded financial aid, such as Perkins Loans, Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans.]

The release notes that “[i]n recent years, some institutions have recognized the potential of innovative learning models and developed creative programs that allow students the flexibility to learn at the pace that makes sense for them, both in career-technical and degree programs. Students progress in these competency-based programs by demonstrating their achievement of specific skills or knowledge. Most competency-based programs fit into traditional learning models that measure progress in credit or clock hours, but an increasing number do not. Some of these programs would like to offer their students title IV aid – including Pell grants and federal student loans – but have been unable to do so.”

Wow – some colleges are moving to competency (read “proficiency”) where students demonstrate skills or knowledge (not seat time).  Fantastic.  They get it.  Seat time doesn’t benefit anyone!  Proficiency does!

The problem has been that colleges that do competency-based education thought they couldn’t offer federal student aid.  Today’s letter addresses their concerns and provides guidance on developing programs that are likely to be title IV eligible!!

Don’t believe me?  Here’s what the US Dept of Ed press release says:

“This is a key step forward in expanding access to affordable higher education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We know many students and adult learners across the country need the flexibility to fit their education into their lives or work through a class on their own pace, and these competency-based programs offer those features – and they are often accessible to students anytime, anywhere. By being able to access title IV aid for these programs, many students may now be able to afford higher education.”

The press release says the US Department of Education  “notes the potential of competency-based approaches to shorten the time to degree completion and reduce costs, while providing an opportunity for students and workers to develop the knowledge and skills they need to compete for high-paying jobs or advance in the workplace. Going forward, the Department plans to collaborate with accrediting agencies and the broader higher education community to encourage innovative approaches, identify promising practices, and gather feedback to inform future policies.”

Colleges are finally catching on!  Now let’s look for rapid adoption of proficiency-based (competency-based) teaching and learning in the public and private K-12 world!

Posted by Mr. Mark Siegel on Wednesday March 20, 2013 at 10:31AM

I just got a copy of Salman Khan’s new book The One World School House – Education Reimagined.  He founded the Khan Academy and his TED video has been viewed by millions.  I just started the book and wanted to share a few items from the first few pages to get you thinking about education and to buy/​​read his book!  You may notice that the points I included here are points I’ve been taking up in my blogs and talks, but I really like his clear take on the entire subject!

On the lecture-model classroom, he writes:

“The old classroom model simply doesn’t fit our changing needs. It’s a fundamentally passive way of learning, while the world requires more and more active processing of information. The old model is based on pushing students together in age-group batches with one-pace-fits-all curricula and hoping they pick up something along the way. It isn’t clear that this was the best model one hundred years ago; it certainly isn’t anymore.”

About change in the education system, he said:

“Between the old way of teaching and the new, there’s a crack in the system, and kids around the globe are falling through it every day. The world is changing at an ever faster rate, yet systemic change, when it happens at all, moves glacially and often in the wrong direction; every day–every class period–the gap grows wider between the way kids are being taught and what they actually need to learn.”

“But instead of acting, people just keep talking about incremental changes. Either for lack of imagination or fear of rocking the boat, the conversation generally stops well short of the kind of fundamental questioning that our educational malaise demands, focusing instead on a handful of familiar but misplaced obsessions like test scores and graduation rates. Those are by no means trivial concerns. Still, what really matters is whether the world will have an empowered, productive, fulfilled population in the generations to come, one that fully taps into its potential and can meaningfully uphold the responsibilities of real democracy.”

And when it comes to thinking about education, he asks:

“How do people actually learn? Does the standard classroom model–broadcast lectures in school, solitary homework in the evening–still make sense in a digital age? Why do students forget so much of what they have supposedly “learned” as soon as an exam has been taken? Why do grown-ups sense such a disconnect between what they studied in school and what they do in the real world? These are the sorts of basic questions we should be asking. But even then, there is an enormous difference between bemoaning the state of education and actually doing something about it.”

And that is why I am sharing this with you, hoping you will (or are) doing something about it.  I hope I got you thinking about education, and interested in buying or reading his book!  I may not agree with everything he says, as I haven’t finished reading it, but so far I’m on his side.  Put it on your shelf next to Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning by Schwahn & McGarvey and you’ll have a lot to think about!  

Posted by marks on Thursday March 21, 2013 at 12:57PM

I stopped blogging for a while so I could step back and think about education newly. I wanted to re-orient myself and insure I was focusing on what was important. So I stepped back and read and thought and traveled and met and spoke, and thought some more. As things were starting to make sense, I had a plan about things I wanted to blog about.

But today I was jolted into blogging by an article in eSchool News that everyone should read .  I was shocked (and I’m not easily shocked) by the report of the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) 2013 annual conference in San Diego last week. The theme was that “[t]ransforming schools from places that deliver traditional, factory-era models of instruction to institutions that support engaging, personalized, and student-centered learning requires bold, audacious leadership.”

That means that we don’t have engaged, personalized, and student-centered learning. That means we want engaged, personalized, and student-centered learning. It means it will take a lot of work to get there! This is serious!  And we don’t have audacious leadership!

From the article:

“We need disruptive, innovative leaders to move 21st-century education forward,” said Jean Tower, CoSN board chair, in kicking off the conference March 12. Tower is also director of technology for the Northborough and Southborough Public Schools in Massachusetts.”

OK, we’ve heard of this before.  Anyone who’s followed Clay Christensen’s work on disruption, including his 2008 book Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns will be familiar with this concept.

But how serious is the problem? One of the speakers, “Lord David Puttnam—who worked for Great Britain’s Ministry of Education for several years and is now chancellor of the online Open University—said education in the Western world isn’t at a “Sputnik” moment today, referring to the mobilization around science and math instruction that occurred in the 1950s when the Soviets launched a satellite into space.

“Instead, ‘we are at a Pearl Harbor moment,’ he said—suggesting the urgency to act is even greater now than in the 1950s….”  

I think this is very strong language. Is this a wake-up call we’ve not heard before?  After discussing the investment in education by other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, Puttnam said those countries love to see “the dysfunction in the U.S. political system that’s holding education back.” Again, in very strong language, he noted  “Napoleon once said, ‘Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.’ That’s how southeast Asia sees us.”  

Wow! I don’t consider education systems at war, but if the US education system fails, there goes the US economy, and the US! We can’t afford to fail. If Puttman is right, that means we need audacious leadership to move us to engaged, personalized, and student-centered learning. Hmmmmm…I think I may have mentioned this once or twice…

Want to read more shocking data!  Read the full article!

Posted by Mr. Mark Siegel on Tuesday March 19, 2013 at 10:52AM

Many folks are confused when they hear that schools districts, states and even countries are now requiring students to pass proficiency tests in math, reading, English, etc.  It is important to know that this is a separate topic from proficiency-based teaching and learning.  In many cases they are unrelated.  Proficiency tests are general tests usually administered to all students at one time for a few hours, to find their reading and math abilities (proficiencies).  As is true of all tests, these have limited usefulness and accuracy.


The proficiency tests in the news are usually being given to public schools students in schools that still operate on the factory-model or still use the lecture method.  Testing for proficiency does not mean teaching for proficiency.  Don’t think that if schools in your area are now administering proficiency tests, that proficiency-based teaching and learning has arrived to rescue your schools from the factory model.  These are different topics.


Testing for proficiency is not teaching for proficiency.  Tests don’t address how students are taught.  It is just testing – general testing at that!


Proficiency-based teaching and learning includes proficiency testing in some form to insure mastery before a student moves on.  But proficiency-based teaching and learning is all about breaking away from the factory model to an approach to teaching and learning that makes sense!  It is individualized and personalized, and is all about the student proceeding at a pace that makes sense for that student, not at a fixed pace for a fixed amount of time dictated by the Carnegie Unit.


Proficiency-based teaching and learning is a transformational shift away from factory-model schools and lecture-method schools to flipped classrooms (see my Khan Academy blog), to project-based learning, to schools with self-paced instruction, to schools where learning (not time) is the constant.  (See my many blogs on this subject.)   Proficiency-based teaching and learning means abandoning the factory-model school and moving into the 21st century.


I’m not against proficiency tests, but I oppose over-testing and I am upset that  proficiency standards vary widely from state to state.  If tests are used to help students and their families find out what students know and can do, and help determine the logical next steps in their education program – I’m OK with that!  If they give honest useful data so families can monitor a student’s educational progress and understand areas that need work, great!


If schools are now administering proficiency tests and this is something new, what were they testing in the past?  Shouldn’t all tests address proficiency.  Yikes.  Hopefully proficiency tests (knowing the limited usefulness of a few-hour snapshot) are an attempt to insure children really are prepared for their next educational step or the world of work, and to give an honest picture of what a student knows and can do.  You’ll have to see if the tests in your area are doing that.

I hope you can explain this to your friends so they won’t confuse proficiency testing with proficiency-based teaching and learning.  You could always tell them about my blog!!

Posted by marks on Friday August 3, 2012 at 02:36PM

I think about education all the time.  Today I found an article about education in Fast Company (an unlikely source) that knocked my socks off.  You can stop here and read it.  But here’s my take and why I’m excited.  (I don’t think the author reads my blog, but the parallel thinking involved is incredible!)


The article is What Will The Ed Tech Revolution Look Like?  Predictions for how the next 15 years are going to change how children learn, at school and at home.  It was written by Tim Brady, a partner and co-founder of Imagine K12, an incubator for tech companies focused on serving the K-12 market, so he is seeing this through the eyes of an entrepreneur (which is a good thing).


He wrote: “In an increasingly competitive world, it is clear that our education system–as currently designed–isn’t sustainable.”  That’s what I’ve been saying – the model, the system itself, is inherently flawed.  I keep saying that it’s the model – not the people – that isn’t working…but I do think that the people should have changed it on their own!  More on that in another blog.


At school, Brady predicts that in the next 5 years we “will see teachers become more efficient in their jobs by adopting web-based tools.”  That is for sure.  I see teachers with iPads, phones, and using programs to make things better and faster!  I think this will happen much sooner.


At home, he says “[t]he Khan Academy has brought the notion of self-paced learning outside of the classroom to the mainstream”.  In a way he’s right.  But there have been other proficiency-based systems in place much earlier, such as Chugach School District in Alaska and others I’ve blogged about. Sal Khan was great, but there are others also making news on the self-paced learning front!


Although I think it has already happened, Brady says that the computer “will now also be seen as a device for learning inextricably tied to a child’s education. This small but important change in perception about the computer at home is a precondition for the second wave.”  I think this is already true.  Look at the educational software available, as well as the research tools and exciting resources available to children and young adults.  Look at the smartphone revolution, the tablet revolution, the electronic reader revolution.


In 5-10 years, he says “[o]nce web-based software becomes commonplace in the classroom, new distribution channels for selling into schools become possible.”…   


While he is involved in this marketplace by bringing products to market, what he says is very important for all of us. This is a huge economic and power shift.  Just as online shopping has changed the brick-and-mortar world to a click/​​click-and-mortar world, there is a change in the purchasing system that will mean great things for K-12 education.  


Brady thinks that educational purchasing will experience what I call a “teacher as consumer revolution”.  Brady says that Instead of superintendents and folks at the top making purchases, “[w]hen dozens of teachers in a school district are using the free version of a web-based product, it’s clear that the product is effective and necessary. The superintendent will no longer need to solicit teachers’ input to know what they want and need.”…”This new bottoms-up channel makes the their jobs easier and their teachers more productive. The best products, rather than the best sales forces, will begin to win the day.”  


Wow – the free market and consumer choice at work – getting better and less expensive products to market!  Brady thinks that “superintendents will give individual teachers small online budgets (less than $500 per year) from which to purchase their own products and tools.”


Incredible shift in economics, marketing and the rise of low cost, useful products being rapidly developed, improved and put to use.


In fifteen years (far too long for me), Brady says that “we will finally see widespread changes to our public school model. Schools will move toward…models that better support the needs of individual students and reflect the fiscal realities of today.”


In his words: “More specifically, public schools will look to save money by moving away from their traditional age-based and grade-based system (i.e. the “factory model”) toward one based on mastery. Kids will be able to test out of certain classes by proving competency. High schools, and maybe even middle schools, will begin to operate less like factories and more like colleges.”


  1.  One more advocate of moving from the factory model to proficiency-based teaching and learning!  Great!  Welcome aboard!


Brady shares my disappointment when he says that it will take fifteen years to see “substantial change. Fifteen years is an entire generation of students! It is difficult to accept the idea that change will take that long while we are failing so many students.”  That is for sure!


But who could disagree with his conclusion.  “Most exciting to me in this revolution is the movement away from the factory model of education and towards something more individually customized to each student and more cost efficient…We will fail fewer students because they will be more engaged, and we will lose fewer teachers to frustration.”


I agree.  There is good news everywhere.  Following up on last year’s Oregon Proficiency Conference, (see my May 2 blog) the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators is making plans for another conference this year.  I’ve been asked to speak about proficiency-based teaching and learning at an annual meeting this fall of private school administrators in Washington State.  

Good news about the shift from the factory model is everywhere, and proficiency-based teaching and learning is working!

[Note:  My last blog talked about the agrarian school calendar.  I missed the news that the Los Angeles Unified School district is cutting days from the existing school year.  The Los Angeles Times wrote:


“A tentative agreement to shorten the school year for Los Angeles students — for the fourth consecutive year — is almost certain to weaken academic gains, and was driven, critics said, by expediency more than the best interests of students.


“The deal reached …calls for canceling up to five instructional days from the 2012-13 school year….  All sides agree that the pact is bad for students but some insist it was unavoidable.”]

This week, I attended an Education Week online chat “The Senior Slump: Strategies to Keep Students Motivated”.  They even posted my question “Isn’t the heart of the problem the factory (time-based) system? Isn’t the solution moving to a proficiency-based system (Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning)?”  I read a related article in Education Week “Eradication of Senior Slump Remains Elusive: Some places using innovative tactics”.

What is the problem?  What are we talking about?  We should define terms.  Senioritis, Senior Slump, Senior-Year Slacking all refer to the same thing.  Merriam-Webster online tells us it is “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades”.  Students, parents and educators all know the root cause.  

Senioritis Logic: Once seniors are accepted into college, there is no need to do anything more than pass with the bare minimum, assuming colleges won’t look at a student’s final transcript.  Better to spend time with friends you won’t be seeing for a while, and take the earned break.  


Researching any of the “senioritis” terms returns many articles on this “disease”.

Wikipedia says this “is a colloquial term used in the United States and Canada to describe the decreased motivation toward studies displayed by students who are nearing the end of their high school, college and graduate school careers. “I have a bad case of senioritis””.


Former US Secretary of Education Richard Riley wrote “Creative leadership is certainly a requirement in overcoming the institutional inertia that allows so many high school students to waste their senior year. Seniors who have completed their mandatory course load or have been accepted to college through early admissions often check out.”


Peterson’s (the college prep company) has an online page about College Prep and the Perils of Senior Slump

A high school senior wrote:

“With fewer than two weeks of school left for the class of 2011, Senior Marissa Daftary explains what it means to fall victim to the senior slump and the ways it affects students.


“There’s a sickness going around Wayland High School seniors, and it’s unlovingly entitled the “senior cough.”


“Symptoms include lack of completed homework, lack of studying for tests or quizzes, and most importantly, lack of motivation for anything at all related to school or learning in the second semester of senior year.


“What’s the official name for this illness?


“Why, it must be the senior slump! The senior slump is the #1 raging disease among teenagers ages 17-18 years old.

“The first sign of senior slump is feeling absolutely no obligation to do any school work.”

I have two things to say.  


One, I was the only person on the Ed Week chat who even suggested that the problem was caused by factory-model schooling, and the solution would be proficiency-based schools.  Top educators and experts were in attendance, but this solution wasn’t part of the discussion.  It seemed to me that they were just trying to keep them busy.  Hmm….  


Two, senioritis NEVER happens here at the Delphian School because we have a proficiency-based program.  Seniors who finish their high program always report that they’ve never worked harder in their lives up to the minute they finish the program!  They finish any time of year, and when they finish they are done!  Couldn’t be simpler!


Big problem.  Easy Solution.

What’s wrong with our schools?  Senioritis is just one of the flawed educational bricks in the out-moded factory model school.  Stay tuned to learn more about the bricks!

Posted by marks on Friday June 29, 2012 at 09:08AM

In the US, the school year is based on the premise that students study in the winter and help farm in the summer.  Duhhh! That may have been true in the past, but today most students don’t live on farms anymore…and farms aren’t what they used to be (smile).


If you search for “longer school days” you will see what the discussion is about.  Of course, longer school days in bad/​​poor schools just makes more bad/​​poor schooling.  But modern educators are realizing there is much more to learn and to do than can be done in a factory-model, agrarian-calendar school year.  That school year makes no sense today!

As I blogged here on August 2, 2011, some schools are starting to extend the school year, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  I also took up some of the issues related to extending the school year.  As I said there, extended calendars in poorly-run “no fun” schools makes no sense. Schools where students are having fun learning and where learning is an adventure should be open longer.  But no students should be in school earning seat time – that’s more than old school!  Students should only be in school as long as needed to become proficient in the subjects they are studying and to meet graduation requirements.  If they need more time – great!  If they get done sooner and can get on with their lives – that’s  even better!

In Off The Clock:  Moving Education from TIME to COMPETENCY, the authors write:

“Let’s start with the message that we send to our students when we start the school year around the beginning of September and end it in May or June.  Do we inadvertently communicate that learning begins at the start of the school year and ends at the end of it?  We communicate that summer is not for learning, that is, unless you’ve done a bad job during the school year and have to endure summer school.”

Last September, the Washington Times reported:

“Students may not want to hear it, but schools that have experimented with extra periods and longer school years report higher graduation rates and higher test scores, according to a new report from the National Center on Time and Learning, a Boston-based nonprofit advocacy group.”


At the National Center on Time and Learning site, they write:

“Unfortunately, our antiquated school calendar is too limiting to provide millions of children with the breadth and depth of educational experiences they will need to thrive.  But schools that have broken from the bounds of the conventional calendar and schedule offer promising alternatives to the status quo. [The Center] has documented the practices of high-performing, high-poverty schools that have expanded time in order to…

 Raise achievement…

 Enrich education…

 Empower teachers”

So now you know.  What’s wrong with our schools?  The agrarian school year is just one of the flawed educational bricks in the out-moded factory model school.  Stay tuned to learn more about the bricks!

Posted by marks on Tuesday June 26, 2012 at 03:14PM

Interesting side note: This week I had the honor of co-presenting a session about blogging at finalsite university in Hartford, Connecticut (finalsite hosts Delphian’s website and provides our content management system).  During the session I actually posted Wednesday’s blog about Rudy Crew!  Not many bloggers can say they posted their blog in front of a live audience!

Now onto the important topic of the day – why the factory model school can’t be reformed – it must be transformed.  

While many writers and thinkers have explained this well, Bill Gates made it very clear when he spoke to the National Governors Association in February of 2005.  At their National Education Summit on High Schools, he said:


“When we looked at the millions of students that our high schools are not preparing for higher education – and we looked at the damaging impact that has on their lives – we came to a painful conclusion:  


“America’s high schools are obsolete.  


“By obsolete, I don’t just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and underfunded – though a case could be made for every one of those points.   


“By obsolete, I mean that our high schools – even when they’re working exactly as designed – cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.


“Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. It’s the wrong tool for the times.     


“Our high schools were designed fifty years ago to meet the needs of another age.  Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting – even ruining – the lives of millions of Americans every year.”

Get it!  The factory model school can’t be reformed – it must be transformed!

In my June 3 blog, I quoted Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen: “Our legacy system was designed for a different century.”  In his words “[a]t long last, can we move away from the assembly-line, age-based grade level system we’ve endured for generations, and move to a system where students move upon demonstration of mastery?”

Get it!  The factory model school can’t be reformed – it must be transformed!

The authors of Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning say:

“Harsh Reality #2  We are Industrial Age organizations existing in an Information Age world.”  


“The graded, assembly-line organizational structure of schools used to make sense.  It doesn’t anymore!”

Get it!  The factory model school can’t be reformed – it must be transformed!

That’s why I no longer talk or think about education reform.  You shouldn’t either.  It is the wrong concept!  We all need to think about school transformation.  

This concept hurts to think about.  Changing the school day, the school year, the lay of the land, the role of teachers, the nature of the curriculum, the role of the student,…everything!  But that is the only way to address an obsolete system that Bill Gates tells us was “designed fifty years ago to meet the needs of another age”…”It’s the wrong tool for the times.”  We need to transform our schools!


Despite the pain, we must think this through and then take action.  If our schools are obsolete and must be transformed, where do we go from here and how fast can we get there?  Hmmm…

Posted by marks on Sunday June 24, 2012 at 09:36AM