New Report says “Shift Away from ‘Seat Time’ on Display in States”

February 20, 2012

From Education Week:  “Thirty-six states have established policies that give districts and schools some degree of ability to award credits to students based on mastery of a subject, rather than “seat time,” a new report says.”

The report  “State Strategies for Awarding Credit to Support Student Learning” is a great report, published by the National Governors Association.  In the Executive Summary, it tells why state education reform efforts may not work:

“Reforms to increase student readiness for college and careers are hampered, in part, by an underlying education system that dictates inputs such as the amount of time students are required to complete a course (commonly known as “seat time”). States may not be able to realize the full potential of education reform until the system’s focus shifts from time-based inputs to student learning outputs tied to the mastery of content and skills.”

I read the report, and I would direct you to the excellent section “Why Crack the Carnegie Unit?”, which is very well written.  It explains “seat time” and the problems with such a time-based system, and that Carnegie Units for seat time “do not to take into account the varied pace at which students learned. That is because the number of seat hours required to complete a course is standardized across schools without regard to an individual student’s prerequisite knowledge and skills.”  Hmmmm….

Then the report goes right to the heart of the matter.  “.. the basic level of proficiency required to earn credit for a course (often the grade of a “C” or higher) means that students may advance through the grades without learning critical content and skills and may later require remediation.”  Hmmm….

The report says that “In the current system, a student with a “C” average is promoted in the same manner as a student with an “A” or “B” average even though there is a significant difference in their levels of mastery of the course material.”  The report then goes on to discuss the high costs of remedial education for students who didn’t master the material they studied.  The report says that in 2010 “states spent roughly $3.7 billion on providing remedial education services to students.”

Get this: “In a system that based student progression on mastery, students would be able to learn more rigorous material when it was clear they were prepared to do so.” !!!!!  I get it.

It is better to learn what you need to know and be able to do it the first time around!  Hmmm….

Read the report.  Spread the word!!!


Posted by marks on Monday February 20, 2012 at 10:13AM

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