Reducing Student Seat Time Leads To Interesting Results For Schools

Feb 3, 2014 | 8:00 am
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seatsIt has been recorded by a number of educators, parents and leaders that one of the greatest barriers to the path of student centered and personalized learning is the requirements of student seat time.

When seat time requirements are removed from state regulations, it seems that a number of new opportunities for students to be able to move at their own rate, and for educators to be able to measure student progress in the terms of actual, authentic learning, instead of in the amount of hours and minutes that are spent in the classroom. However, the fact is that the regulatory battles are only half of the problem. When it comes to the creation of classrooms and schools that are completely competency based, the policy change is only a small portion of a larger endeavor. While it is a necessary step, it is not going to be sufficient when sought alone.

New Hampshire is a state that is offering a very helpful example of how the actual internal dynamics of the innovation fostering is taking place, instead of just the barriers on the exterior that are constraining it. New Hampshire has eliminated all of the external barriers to the competency based education. This move took place in the 2008 to 2009 school year.

When the move was made by the state to take the schools off of the clock, they received very interesting results. There were some schools that used the concept of the competency based education and undid all of the older practices that had benchmarked progress through the amount of time, rather than the amount of learning. Other schools shifted their testing and grading policies in order to reflect mastery, providing additional content for the students that were either moving ahead or falling behind and also created an assessment period that was more frequent and informative.

There were also some schools that did not change at all. While these schools are still working well and providing students with the education they need, but did not fully embrace the innovative vision that was adopted by the state.

The fact is that this was an uneven transformation for New Hampshire’s districts and there has been one certain fact gathered: the effort to transform from a time based platform to a competency based system will be dependent on the structure, traditional culture or the schedule in the districts and the individual schools.

While it is easy to become affected when it comes to your child’s education, and when the thought of irrational policies making their way in is possible, the innovation that is emerging will transform the modern school system, with predictions to making a smarter and better educated population. Keep in mind; this is still a new concept and one that has not been adopted by many states. However, if it proves to be successful, chances are it may take store and catch on across the nation.