Cracking the Code: Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-Based Learning

This International Association for K-12 Online
Learning (iNACOL) report proposes a state-policy framework for
performance-based learning, which would allow students to advance from
grade-to-grade and course-to-course based on subject mastery as opposed to seat
time. (At present, performance-based learning is predominantly delivered
through digital and blended approaches.) The report’s policy proposals are
sound, if somewhat obvious. But that’s not all this publication offers. For
one, it serves up in-depth case studies of a handful of exemplar states,
including Alabama, New Hampshire, and Oregon—articulating the positive elements
of these states’ policies and where they could still be improved. Second, Susan
Patrick, the report’s author and iNACOL’s president, troubleshoots potential
hiccups in implementing performance-based learning, framing six emerging challenges
and offering specific state-policy design elements addressing each. For
example, one potential concern with performance-based learning is how to create
a student-centered accountability model. In order to do so, she argues, states
should move from once-annually testing regimes to more frequent modularized
testing. Anyone who thinks digital learning is poised to play a big role in our
K-12 system going forward (and that should mean all of you!) ought to give this
piece of work a look.

Susan Patrick, “Cracking the
Code: Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-Based Learning
,” (Vienna,
VA: International Association for K-12 Online Learning, July 2011).

Michael Ishimoto is a Research Intern at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute