Spaulding High School’s Move-on-When-Ready Pilot
Walking into Mrs. Ford’s Economics class, I noticed a group of students scattered on the floor enthusiastically talking about supply and demand. Other students were sitting alone while working on their chromebooks. A small group of students sitting at a round table were debating whether or not the China trade war was good for America. This was personalized learning at its core. When I asked the teacher about the learning expectations, she explained that students were all at a different place in the unit. Some chose to work collaboratively, while others chose to work on their own. Some chose to prepare for a summative, while others had already completed the summative and were working on the next task.
“I have seen huge improvements with student engagement. My students do not seem as stressed because they work at their own pace,” said the teacher. “This has really allowed me to personalize instruction for every student.”
What was observed in Mrs. Ford’s classroom is part of a pilot program that allows students to work at their own pace while choosing assignments that are personalized. Since Spaulding High School moved to Competency-Based Education nearly 10 years ago, the goal was to evolve to a “move on when ready” model that focused on student learning rather than seat time.
In the fall of 2017, Principal Justin Roy formed a committee of teachers to make this theory a reality. Collaboratively, this group worked to define the four common elements that would be evident in each of the Move on When Ready courses: self direction, personalized instruction, real world connections, and student collaboration. The teachers were ready to take the challenge.
The Spaulding Community has been very supportive of this pilot program. “I am very excited to see the enthusiasm from both students and teachers. The idea that we are focused more on student learning rather than seat time has proven to be very engaging for our students. The level of “buy in” has far exceeded my initial expectations,” said Spaulding Principal Justin Roy. “There has been a significant change in the mindset of my teachers as the conversations have shifted to a focus on how students learn.” Currently, there are 12 MOWR classes at Spaulding, and that number will be doubling next year. These courses are offered in all subject areas and with all academic levels of students.
Overall, students have responded positively. One student reported, “I like being able to work at my own pace. I like that I can choose what project to work on”. Another student explained, “I was never really a good student and did not really do my work. This has been very good for me because I am motivated to complete my work so that I can finish senior English early”.
While this pilot has been highly successful, there are still logistics that need to be finalized. As the number of these courses double, master scheduling will be a top priority so that students will be able to move on to another course offered at the same time.
Any district that is interested in this pilot program is encouraged to contact Spaulding High School or the Superintendent’s office.