Delaware Has Long Trek Ahead Around Next Generation Learning

November 30th, 2011

Category: News

Digital Learning Now! recently released Delaware’s state report card, and the initial results are not promising, demonstrating that we have significant work ahead of us before the necessary policies are in place to ensure our students benefit from high-quality next generation learning opportunities.

The report card, which measures our alignment to 72 metrics based on the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning, gives us the following information about Delaware:

  • We have achieved 20 out of the 72 metrics, such as not having enrollment caps at charter schools or requiring student learning data be used in the evaluation of teachers;
  • We are one of eight states with 20 or less metrics achieved, while five (Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and Minnesota) have achieved 45 or more;
  • We are ahead of some of most states in Element #8 (Assessment & Accountability) – where we have accomplished four out of six metrics, mostly because of DCAS;
  • We significantly trail states in a couple areas, including Element #3 (Personalized Learning), Element #7 (Providers), and Element #9 (Funding) – showing that we haven’t created the infrastructure, with a corresponding flow of dollars, to successfully recruit highly-capable providers to help drive this work on the ground.

More importantly, however, is the fact that we have accomplished zero out of seven transformational metrics that enable high-quality next generation learning.  These include:

  • establishing a competency-based education that requires students to demonstrate mastery – such as through end-of-course exams;
  • providing a robust offering of high quality courses from multiple providers;
  • ending the practice of seat-time, which requires students attend class a certain number of hours before receiving credit;
  • funding education based on achievement instead of attendance;
  • funding the student instead of our system, as we currently do through the unit count;
  • prohibit districts from withholding funding or credit for students enrolling with approved providers; and
  • breaking down teacher-student ratios and class size limit barriers to effective instruction.

While this will obviously give most people pause, I would posit two points.  First, teachers need next generation learning tools, empowering them with the necessary information to help students achieve higher-order thinking skills as well as allowing for more one-on-one, interpersonal interaction.  Second, next generation learning needs excellent teachers, enabling us to tailor roles and responsibilities based on each teacher’s skill set.  This could mean using one teacher, with excellent interpersonal skills, as a small group tutor and another, adept at distilling complex topics into simple and easy to understand information, as lecturer for online, quick lessons. 

Through Race to the Top, we are putting down the initial framework to enable next generation learning to take off; however, there is still a lot of work to be done to fully understand what this would look like for all involved and what path Delaware would take to get there.  We look forward to working with interested stakeholders in the future regarding how next generation learning opportunities could be brought to Delaware classrooms in order to benefit our kids.

Brett Turner

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