Colo. District to Ditch Grade Levels

Students in Adams 50 will progress based on knowledge, not age
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2009 2:05 PM CST
Seventh-graders from Hutchins at McMichael School, Michael Womack, left, Malik Perry, and Albert Jones, create a time line of President Obama's life.   (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)
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(Newser) – Faced with a 58% graduation rate and falling test scores, officials in Colorado’s Adams 50 school district are doing away with traditional grade levels as part of a massive educational transformation, the Christian Science Monitor reports. When the program is fully phased in, students will no longer be separated by age, but rather proceed individually through 10 multi-age levels, advancing only when they have achieved competency in a subject.

The idea, known as “standards-based education,” has been tried once before, in a 250-student district in Alaska, where it achieved staggering success in only 5 years. But critics question what will happen when a large group of students fail to advance and create a bottleneck.