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August 10, 2009

Is it seat time or mastery?

by Chris Lindholm

If you're a public educator and are not feeling the heat of the other venues now available to students to learn, please wake up and join the dialogue.  Your job may be at stake. 

Today I was faced with "calling the shot" on an report card sent to our school documenting the credit a student had earned through online high school.  The document showed a solid grade equivelant to a quarter long class… completed in just over 8 hours of computer time.  Clock hour requirements for a public school to give comparable credit value would demand at least 30 hours of seat time.  If you were a student, which venue would you pick?  Time is precious!

It has always struck me as odd that public discourse is demanding more accountability yet seat time hours are still dictated in MN statute.  If proving mastery can be measured by a few tests (as some claim…) then why not just have the students pass the test and be done?  Seems to me we could pull that off in, well, maybe a couple of 8 hour work sessions online and call it a year…  Or maybe there is something more to public education than that…  If so, what is it?  How do we measure it and shouldn't we be held accountable for that too? 

Public educators, our work lies at the core of making democracy work.  There is more to what we do than a math and reading score.  How do we measure it and report it loudly to the public?  How could we do that?  If we don't work together to figure it out soon, the public will be convinced that they can boil education down to a few online classes that take a long weekend. 

Now pardon me, I need to get back to my facebook chats…

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