Outside of the box : shifting from traditional to performance-based curriculum and assessment

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


In an era of rapid technological and economic change, public school systems are challenged to find new ways to engage today's student and increase student learning. Clearly it is difficult to create and implement a "one-size-fits-all" educational model for all students in the United States. However, current research indicates that increases in student achievement may be achieved by implementing educational approaches built around active inquiry, authentic learning, and project/performance demonstrations of student achievement (DeLorenzo, 2012; Haystead, 2010; Marzano, et al., 2001, Mortenson, 2009). This qualitative study examines the process by which an alternative program in a public high school setting began the shift from a traditional teacher-led, time-based system of curriculum delivery and assessment to one that is student-centered and performance-based. Findings from interviews with five administrators and five classroom instructors indicate that national mandates, local mandates, a motivator, and a moral purpose led the district's move toward a performance-based educational model. Communication, time, and alignment with traditional school systems were the challenges faced and increases in teacher engagement, student engagement, and academic rigor were the successes encountered. Suggestions for further research are presented.




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