What Happens When Students Control Their Own Education?
At Pittsfield, student-led discussions, small-group work, and individual projects dominate. The traditional grading system has been replaced with a matrix of “competencies,” detailing the skills and knowledge students are expected to master in each class.
Students are graded on a scale of 1 to 4—with 2.5 considered “proficient”—and those numbers are converted into letter grades for their transcripts. Teachers meet at regular intervals to review how closely their instruction is aligning with the competencies; they use an online database to continually track individual student growth. Additional online classes allow students to further challenge themselves and earn college credit. Family engagement is considered a key part of each student’s progress. And the Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) program allows students to earn credit for workplace experiences that reinforce their academic studies, such as interning at a dentist’s office or the local radio station.