Bringing the Brilliance graphic

The following article is written by Director of Teaching and Learning Andrew Hodges

School districts tend to move at a slower pace when it comes to implementing systems-wide change. These changes affects students, staff and community members and can have far-reaching implications for many years. For these reasons, districts take a “low and slow” approach, favoring traditional methods over the latest and greatest. 

However, this gap can span decades. 

This can potentially lead to poor student outcomes based on outdated research or methods that don’t align with 21st century standards. 

At St. Anthony-New Brighton Schools, we are dedicated to closing this gap with our staff when it comes to proficiency and standards-based learning. To close this gap, we need to shift our practices in planning, teaching, assessing and addressing all learning acceleration needs. 

This is not just a shift in how we teach and assess, but also in how we, as a school district, provide the acceleration for all of our students to grow and achieve. This change is not a passing trend but a well-considered and strategic move to enhance the quality of education we provide our students. 

Traditionally, education has often focused on completing coursework and earning grades, sometimes without a clear understanding of what those grades represent. With proficiency-based learning, we shift our focus to ensure that every student truly understands the content and skills they are learning and where they are in the continuum of learning.

Proficiency and standards-based learning shift the focus from rote memorization to deep understanding and application of knowledge. This approach not only improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills but also better equips students to tackle complex challenges in their academic and professional lives. This is where the art of teaching also comes into focus. As a district, we set the expectations for utilizing standards, depth of knowledge for tasks/assessments, and how we measure student success via our Success Metrics. Teachers select instructional methods that push students to think deeply and critically, including how our secondary math teachers utilize the Thinking Classrooms approach. Our teachers are the best-suited and prepared to make these instructional choices.

Every student is unique, with different strengths, challenges, and interests. The proficiency and standards-based learning model allows for greater personalization of education. Teachers can tailor instruction to meet the specific needs of students, providing additional support where necessary and allowing advanced learners to explore more challenging material. 

This personalized approach ensures that each student can reach their full potential, and that teachers and staff have the capacity to support their development.

In a rapidly changing world, students must develop skills and knowledge that are directly applicable to real-world situations. Proficiency and standards-based learning place a strong emphasis on teaching practical skills that are not only academically rigorous but also relevant to future career and life success. By aligning our curriculum with industry standards and real-world expectations, we better prepare our students to excel in the workforce and life. This focus on the relevance of learning and the application of what we learn about in school to real-world situations is how we get to truly rigorous instruction. 

The decision to shift to proficiency and standards-based learning is rooted in our commitment to providing the best possible education for your children. This transformative approach offers numerous benefits, including a clearer path to mastery, individualized learning, real-world relevance and a focus on deep understanding over memorization.

As we embark on this journey, we are excited to work closely with our dedicated teachers, supportive parents, and motivated students to ensure that this shift enhances the educational experience in our school district. Together, we can empower our children to become confident, capable, and adaptable learners who are well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Please contact me with any questions you may have! 

Andrew Hodges
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  • Teaching and Learning