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Competency-Based Grading and Common Core Math: A Perfect Match? | Sanborn Regional High School Principal’s Blog

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I met Sanborn Regional High School principal Brian Stack at yesterday on my inspiring visit to the Sanborn Regional School District.  There’s much more on that to come but here, in a blog post of Brian’s, is a taste of the great work the district has done in implementing both competency based education and the Common Core:

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Imagine you are a peasant, and your ruler told you that you could have as much land as you could mark off by walking in one day. What is the most amount of land you could reasonably claim? Give your answer in square miles and be prepared to support and defend your work.
Among the questions that came to mind when thinking about how to solve this problem were these: How many hours can a peasant reasonably walk in a day? How fast can a peasant walk? How many breaks will the peasant need to take? Are their hills, mountains, or other physical obstacles that the peasant will encounter? What kind of tools will the peasant have to navigate with (i.e. a compass or a GPS)?
Very quickly, a group of us began to debate these questions and create a list of assumptions that we would use to derive our answer. We debated what type of a shape would produce the biggest area. With some trial and error and use of some mathematical formulas, we agreed that a circle might be the theoretical shape that would yield the biggest area, but the square was the shape that would be easiest for the peasant to trace, assuming they had a compass or could make use of a reference point such as the sun for direction.
My uh-huh moment came not because my team arrived at an answer that we felt comfortable with, it came because I realized that we as a math team were embarking on a revolution that was going to change the way our students thought about math. The days of assessing students with multiple-choice, low depth-of-knowledge math questions would soon be gone. Instead, a new era of performance-based summative assessments that may have more than one correct answer will soon become the norm in schools across America. Students will not only have to be good at math, they will have to be experts in mathematical reasoning as they support and defend their thinking. This is a competency-based approach to learning. My mind filled with excitement and optimism as I realized that our recent shift to a competency-based grading and reporting system was going to put our students into the driver’s seat as we implement the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics into our math classes this school year.

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read the rest of Brian’s insightful post here at: Competency-Based Grading and Common Core Math: A Perfect Match? | Sanborn Regional High School Principal’s Blog.


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