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Unleashing Innovation in Connecticut Schools

July 8, 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 3.41.16 PMMost states wanting to open the door to competency-based innovation have used a seat-time waiver. The problem with those waivers is they usually have to be resubmitted each year, the process can be time-consuming, and they have added extra work for already capacity-strapped state education agencies. Michigan was so swamped with waivers they created one giant waiver for everyone to huddle under.

So what’s a state to do if it isn’t ready to go the full-blown proficiency-based diploma route as Maine, New Hampshire, and Colorado,  but the waiver isn’t working for them?  Let’s take a peek at Connecticut’s Act for Unleashing Innovation in Connecticut Schools passed by the legislature in May. The legislation does a lot of things  — the first one, and most important for our conversation, is that it permits high school students to earn academic credits using non-traditional, mastery-based standards. (Note: Connecticut uses the phrase mastery-based.)

What we’ve learned is that policy alone doesn’t do much to stimulate innovation.  We are almost hard-wired now to think about school starting in September, stopping in June, lasting so many minutes per day, Monday –Friday. So there’s got to be something else in place to support those that want to innovate and give them a bit of cover as well when there is push-back. In Connecticut that’s the New England Secondary Schools Consortium’s League of Innovative Schools, the sponsor of the upcoming Mastery-Based Diploma Leadership Institute. (more…)

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