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techdirections March 2017 : Page 33

grated physical science taught by the manufacturing teacher and a geom-etry teacher whose original career was engineering. We celebrated our first graduat-ing class of students in June of 2016. Each year since we began our model, the administration worked alongside teachers on a continuous progres-sion to make graduation day happen for these first students. We completed a grading sys-tem, a competency-based report, a competency-based transcript along with a GPA system that made sense to us. When our students graduated, we were proud to be able to say that each student had shown mastery on every competency in every course. We also had two of our 50 stu-dents graduate within three years. When classes are integrated and able to award several credits and graduation requirements, students can go much faster and also take advantage of the career opportuni-ties that they are truly there for, both inside the school and out. A social studies class at Manchester School of technology feeling a sense of urgency to meet deadlines. We have worked for the past 18 months on cross-curricular competen-cies to measure timeliness as well as citizenship skills or what is commonly referred to as 21st Century skills. Career and technical programs already have these competencies incorporated into every program in what is called “All Aspects of Indus-try.” These new CCC’s will be piloted beginning this semester. Creating a new innovative school while it is in operation requires truly dedicated teachers and much admin-istrative support. Our school was also fortunate enough to have been chosen to be part of the “Next Gen” grant in partnership with the Great Schools Partnership, and in conjunction with the New England Secondary Schools Consortium. The Nellie Mae Grant allowed us to have $25,000 to spend on workshop opportunities, pay for substitutes and give stipends for teacher collaboration. (Nellie Mae is among the various funders of The Hechinger Report.) Most importantly, it gave us a coach who would work in our school with us for four days a month. Blazing a trail often means that you are creating the wheel and often using trial and error. The main objec-tive is to always keep the students’ best interests at heart. Blazing a trail often means that you are creating the wheel and often using trial and error. the main objective is to always keep the students’ best interest at heart. The treasure of the competency-based system is that students are allowed to continue their work when school gets out in summer, during our “competency-recovery “ time, and sometimes into the next year during their Learning Lab time or while sitting in the back of the class they need to finish. The biggest drawback we have seen is the part of our mantra that too many students have taken to heart: the “as long as you need.” We have found that having grades that continue on for a year has be-come abstract, with students not cte 33

Industrial Press

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