Last month, I had the opportunity to visit three schools in Detroit run by Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority (EAA). I’ll be sharing what I saw and learned on CompetencyWorks over the next couple of weeks.
Background: The EAA is a local education agency with the authority to reinvent Michigan’s Priority Schools, previously called Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools. The EAA is charged with transforming the five (5) percent PLA schools across Michigan by providing increased flexibility and autonomy at the local school level and eliminating the barriers that impede student performance. They are getting results — in Detroit, all of the EAA K-8 schools were in the top twenty schools for growth in achievement.
EAA established a specific model to be implemented with 12 schools initiating the turnaround in 2012 with another set starting implementation in 2013. The model is described as student-centered and is a dynamic integration of mastery-based and blended learning topped off by a no-excuses leadership mentality. In order to implement EAA had to secure a seat-time waiver from the state. EAA is led by John Covington and Mary Esselman. They, their team, and the leadership in the EAA schools are definitely people to watch.
EAA Model: The EAA describes their approach as student-centered (you’ll see and hear SCL referred to throughout the schools) in which “pedagogy, assessments, support systems and culture are refocused to facilitate student progress organized around mastery instead of age and seat time.” Students learning experiences are personalized through the use of blended learning, and Buzz a powerful teaching and learning platform.
EAA’s model is built upon five pillars:
- Students are grouped by readiness, not by grade. Teachers and students refer to levels. There are about two levels for each age-grade. Students are assessed using the Scantron Performance Series when they enter school to assign them their levels in each subject area.
- Students create and assume ownership for their respective personalized learning and success paths and are able to communicate their progress relative to their individualized learning goals. In addition to Buzz that tracks progress, you’ll see several rituals in the classrooms in which students mark their progress as well as let teachers know how they are doing. (more…)