PBE Myths & Facts
MYTH! This statement is actually true, but most proficiency-based high schools continue to report class rank because it is a statistic that many admissions offices still seek from applicants. Philosophically, class rank doesn’t fit with the proficiency-based education model because it is computed by comparing an individual’s performance against the performance of their peers. Class rank gives no indication of the level or degree of learning that has taken place. In proficiency-based systems, student learning is measured against a standard of performance set forth in a well-defined rubric. Although the tide is starting to turn, this philosophy is not yet widespread in higher education, and as a result, class rank is still a standard reporting measure that proficiency-based high schools calculate and report.
MYTH! There is no "failing" in a proficiency based system. According to the RSU 24 Assessment Guide, a score of a 2 is labeled "Emerging". This means, that there is an "emerging demonstration of the required knowledge and skills. A student independently completes simple pieces of the task, and needs assistance with more complex ideas and processes". Although students in all classes are working towards 3's in their performance indicators in order to show evidence of knowledge and skill at a Proficient level, RSU 24 promotes a growth-minded philosophy, which means that in our classrooms a 2 means "not quite there yet" and does not have any indication of failure.
MYTH! Although behaviors are separated from academic performance within a PBE system, they are still assessed and reported as meaningful pieces of information about student performance. Habits of Work & Learning (HOW&L) scores are often linked to content-area understanding and convey information regarding Executive Functioning skills that are needed beyond K-12 education such as "initiative and independence", so they are an important focus for teachers. HOW&L scores are reported on a student's official transcript, and are diligently looked at by admissions counselors to help determine a success rate in post-secondary education. HOW&L performance is also linked to Co-Curricular eligibility within RSU 24 as it is in many other PBE systems around the state and country.
MYTH! By tracking assessment, the PBE approach recognizes and encourages striving for higher achievement. While it is true that the students will undoubtedly encounter some amount of “back-stabbing, every-person-for-themselves, cut-throat competitive” attitudes out in the world after school, we believe that kind of competition is unhealthy and ultimately unproductive, and as such should not be stressed or fostered. Rather students should be urged to instead urged to ever outdo themselves and reach for personal bests while working with their fellow students to help them do the same, just as a good coach will emphasize having the players work together to make the team the best it can be, recognizing and applauding instances of outstanding individual performance but at the same time not encouraging any player to think that they are better than all of their team-mates nor rewarding such “prima dona” attitudes. We believe this approach will help students best to develop secure, confident perceptions of who they are and what they can achieve, which should actually better prepare them to lead happy, productive lives in the face of any “me-first” competitive attitudes they may encounter.
Stack, B. (2016). Separating the facts from the myths in the competency-based high school transcript. Retrieved from: http://www.competencyworks.org/understanding-competency-education/separating-the-facts-from-the-myths-in-the-competency-based-high-school-transcript/