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Some Schools Scrap Age-Based Grade Levels, Focusing on Mastery of Material

U.S. K-12 education has been undergoing a revolution as states try new ways to boost graduation rates and better prepare students for college or work. Louisiana gives credit for classes offered by local businesses. Rhode Island allows students to earn “digital badges” outside the classroom for creating business plans. Students in Florida and Oregon take massively open online courses, or MOOCs, for high-school credit.

Competency-based learning goes further, jettisoning the century-old idea that students move ahead based on age and classroom time. In the past few years, Iowa, Connecticut, Maine and Utah changed laws to let districts define what a credit means, bringing the number to 29 states.