An overhaul addresses how kids learn, not what courses they take.

Jennifer Brown:

Loveland High School used to offer watered-down math for students flunking geometry and algebra.
Then the geometry and construction teachers created a course that’s all the rage at Loveland High — a house-building class where students learn the slope of a line by determining the pitch of a roof.
The school started with two classes last year and now has six. Enrolled students have outperformed their classmates on state tests. And now Thompson School District is creating an algebra course where students will convert a gas-guzzling car to an electric one.
That creative course design is an illustration of what Gov. Bill Ritter envisions under his new education initiative — a revamping of curricula from preschool to college to produce courses focused more on content than titles.
Details of the governor’s initiative are still sketchy, though a 28-page draft of the legislation is likely to become official this week.

One thought on “An overhaul addresses how kids learn, not what courses they take.”

  1. This has real potential. But I seriously doubt it could ever happen here in Wisconsin, where we apparently have to force all kids to go through totally heterogenous classrooms all the way through 12th grade. One of the parts of the plan being proposed in Colorado is letting some kids finish after tenth grade, and go on from there to technical schools or community colleges at that point – a bit like the typical European system of what is so derisively called “tracking” here. Only the kids who really want to work on college-prep material and attend high school through 12th grade do so, and then apply to (and at least in this plan, are guaranteed admission to state schools) universities and colleges with some idea of what they are interested in studying long-term. Most business- and communications-=related degrees, for example, are considered technical and trade-level certifications, that you really don’t need a full university-level education to thrive in. After all, you do not need the same kind of or numbers of years of English composition and literature education, it is assumed, to get through business school, as you do to go on to graduate school in linguistics or mathematics.
    IN fact, in Germany, they think that all of our high schools are like going to their schools through tenth or eleventh grade, and that at least a two-year US college degree (associates) is required to have close to the same education they have with a regular high school degree (through 13th grade) that will get you into college.
    Of course, a high-quality, college-prep (unfortunately, often necessarily private) school in the US through 12th grade, will provide at least the level of education that a German high school provides. However, because the majority of our public schools do not, any German exchange student (as with the Finnish ones quoted earlier in another article) who comes here for a year in high school is required to repeat that year in Germany.
    Their curriculum is also structured differently, so that you take more subjects each year, but cover less total material, so you stretch out each subject from about 8th grade on, but cover more by the end than we can in one year each (e.g., chemistry, biology, and physics are all taken at once in the prep-high-school). Anyway, that is also how they manage to take at least two world languages in school and learn both at least well enough to travel with some degree of confidence in English and one more language other than their native German (typically, Spanish or French).
    At any rate, this proposed system in Colorado would be more competitive with and comparable to the majority of European (and even many Asian) school systems. It is not “the same” for everyone though, so many people think it is not “equitable”. Of course, that brings us back to the “equity is not equal” point that the equity task force has been trying to make in MMSD for the past several years.

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