(Re)Thinking Diplomas to Mirror Mastery

#Whatif diplomas communicated ACTUAL learning versus seat time? #WHYONE diploma option? #AllKidsDeserveThis #LetsBeBetter

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
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UPDATE 3/28/16: Added a .pdf of the latest presentation/information ("Proficiency Scales and (Re) Thinking Diplomas"), a copy of the Marzano taxonomy that we (@AOS94ME) uses to determine and plan for complexity, and an updated image of the diploma/certification "levels."


UPDATE 3/24/16:

I am in the process of completing a major steps forward with implementing this idea in my local school district: integration of this idea into our local system of data management (PowerSchool and Google Docs) using the microcredential framework.  I am hoping to have this initially completed by the end of the week.

ORIGINAL POST

For longer than most of us can remember, the diploma has served as a representation of achievement.  A powerful moment in a persons life admit symbolizes a major achievement.  A diploma is a big deal; no question about it.  But what happens when the diploma becomes marginalized?  When you can't determine from the diploma what the student actually knows and can do?  The transcript becomes the important document; the diploma then becomes more "ceremonial" and "cultural."  It loses its ability to communicate the extent to which a student has learned.  It becomes a catch all for the exceptional as well as those who are moved along.

What if we could change that?

What if we could align the diploma to the transcript, and simply, accurately, and authentically communicate learning while also certifying and credentialing?

To prepare students beyond HS and into college and career, we need to support them in our documentation as well as our pedagogy.  Creating a leveled diploma system that is based off of the three core components of proficiency/mastery (content, complexity, and autonomy) can accomplish this goal.

#WHYONE

#LETSBEBETTER

#AllKIDSDESERVETHIS


Also, here's a new (3/23/16) blog post I wrote regarding Badges and proficiency-based learning: http://mattdrewettecard.weebly.com/blog/thin-mints-badges-proficiency-based-learning

Have a doc or slides that you're collaborating in? Link it here.

Standards Document (DRAFT): https://goo.gl/Jdibo1
Leveled Capacity Matrices- ELA (DRAFT): https://goo.gl/q3T5TQ, Math (DRAFT): https://goo.gl/noNnum, Science (DRAFT): https://goo.gl/xjHBGU, Social Studies (DRAFT): https://goo.gl/aFI7K2
 Graduation Standards & Complexity Crosswalk: https://goo.gl/I3wxJ4
#tguild Planning Doc for Evolve Phase: https://goo.gl/6U3jrc (ALL welcome to join!)
RoseBudThorn: (Re)Thinking Diplomas to Mirror Mastery: https://goo.gl/KpJVcH (ALL welcome to comment)

Evaluation results

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Attachments (7)

MSAd #46 Common Grading Scale.pdf

This is the pilot/first iteration of our common grading scale across our district to align to a growth-mindset approach of grading, while also having a common language of grading. It's important to ensure that a "3" in 5th grade has the same defining characteristics as a "3" in 11th grade, even though the content and complexity will differ.

29 comments

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Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

I am very excited to be working this idea into our PowerSchool system this week.  I will provide more updates, but I've basically been given the "green light" to push this forward to the next phase, which involves production, revisiting empathy (w/ students, parents, teachers, universities, and employers), and another round of iteration.  I will continue to update this page as the work progresses, but feel free to contact me with any more information.  Exciting times!!!

Photo of Avnita Bir
Team

Would love to see this idea pan out and how we could tweak it to our schools in India which have a very large number of students. All the best Matthew Drewette-Card 

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Thanks!  I'll keep things posted, either on my Twitter feed (@DrewetteCard) and on my blog (mattdrewettecard.weebly.com)!

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

I'm really liking that final product, Matt.  I think it does a solid job of capturing the moral imperative behind this approach to the high school diploma, as well as laying out the fundamentals of the idea.  Having seen the whole idea gone through several iterations, I think this latest may have the greatest clarity yet. 

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Thanks Dan.  You've been instrumental in the growth of this idea.  I hope we can make something real out of it.

Photo of Edwin Lagos
Team

Hi Matthew,

Love the work you've done on this. As part of our portfolios idea, I think that there is a lot of overlap between what we're trying to build and what you have in place here. Would you like to have a chat to see how we can best support each other? Maybe a GHO in the next few days if you're available?

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Thanks!  I can GHO on Monday morning, until 10am (EST) or from 11-1pm (EST).  Tuesday I'm available all morning until 12pmEST.  Let me know what works, & either email me or DM me (@DrewetteCard) the details of what works best for you.  Thanks again!

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

Hi @Edwin Lagos , @Matthew Drewette-Card ,I'm hopeful I can be part of that GHO as well if the timing works out.  I'm @wickeddecenton Twitter.

Photo of Ana Villegas
Team

I really like your work!
Your grading scale is impresive, we are transforming our institution to work with challenges and  we must transform our way of grading, so you scale give me an inspiration for our work

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Thank you!  It's been over a year of tinkering, ideating, testing... And there's still more to go!  I'd love to support your work in anyway, so keep me posted on how I can help!

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

Ready to evolve this idea and catapult it forward! Matt, where are you feeling the biggest need for feedback? sticky tensions needing resolving?  

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

I'd really like to work on the ideas replicability.  To what extent can any district take this idea and make it "their own?"  Which parts are non-negotiable to make this work, and to what extent are those parts (as they exist) truly are non-negotiable?  There's a start, at least.

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Also, given another comment recently, Special Education and CTE need to be clarified and deepened.  The framework works for all kids in any scenario (especially when coupling it with proficiency scales and flexible scheduling), but how to easily and effectively communicate that transferability?

Photo of Shawn Dougherty
Team

I love the a la carte nature of your idea.  I suggested a version of this, though not nearly as developed as your proposal, a few years ago.  Our question, and perhaps an application for your idea, was how to accomadate students with major learning deficiencies without deminishimg the value of our diploma.   When this is common practice, I'll be proud to say I knew you when...

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

The same framework can be applied.  In our state (Maine), we have two different major statewide assessments for measuring students: one for all students, and one for students with significant cognitive disabilities.  Both assessments are based on performance standards.  Both assessments vary in terms of rigor and expectations.  Both assessments vary in terms of content.  Both assessments vary in terms of what "proficiency"'looks like... As they should.  Using this template and standard, based on the already existing  mandates, one could create a leveled/tiered diploma system for students regardless of exceptionality.  The diplomas themselves wouldn't change, but the underlying expectations (based on these significant cognitive exceptionalities) would differ from a student without these exceptionalities.  Fair doesn't mean equal... it means appropriate and equitable.  This structure could and would work for all students, IMHO.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Hey Matthew, Love this idea! You are really thinking of innovative ways to address some of educations biggest challenges, luck to have you on the Teachers Guild.

I appreciate that you address the fact that a diploma can or has become nothing more than a ceremonial piece of paper. I love the idea of rethinking what a diploma can be. Imagine the motivation for students to achieve at a higher level when the process is scaffolded as you have laid out.  A couple question come to mind.  Is there a presentation component for each level? Could the system be created that students "graduate" through diplomas throughout their high school experience? For example, could a freshman in high school who is already proficient with the foundation skills receive the foundations diploma before moving on to sophomore year? 

I really love this idea and would be excited to join your team!

Michael

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Thanks for the feedback!  I am currently designing the first iteration of how the different content is broken down in each grade level; the presentation is more "conceptual" as it relies on the individual/local districts to define (remember I work in a local-control state).  Students earn a diploma/certification once they have fully mastered the respective level, meaning that the student would, in a sense, "level up."  

This idea eliminates "freshman" & "sophomore" type structures of high school design.  It's solely based on competency/mastery/proficiency.  In this system, a traditional 8th grader could have earned a foundational diploma and be working on proficiency "badges" at an "Initial" level, all the while a traditional 12th grader may be working on proficiency "badges" at the foundational level.  So instead of reporting one "catch all" diploma, the diploma itself would be tied to content, autonomy, and the depth of knowledge and skill associated with that content.  This way, a college admissions office or employer could easily identify "readiness" or whether or not that individual would be a "good fit."

 Instead of having one diploma that simply means, "refer back to the transcript," what if our diploma and transcript were interchangeable?  What if our educational system simply reported what was learned, instead of masking it and setting those kids up to fail once the safety net of school is gone?

I'll add the Google Doc of the standards I'm designing.

By the way, if you haven't figured this out yet: I'm actually doing this.  I have Administrative, teacher, and (preliminary) school board support to pursue and design this.  AOS #94 (out of Dexter, Maine) is becoming a true hub for education innovation, and I love working here!

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

I'm hoping others here in the Guild see that this idea has traction beyond these spaces.  This a fine example of how ideating and collaborating on the Teachers Guild needn't be theoretical or reach only prototype stage.  When the collaborations align with the challenges facing our impact areas, we have the opportunity to solve an authentic problem here AND create a scalable model that others may apply to the challenge as it surfaces in their spaces.

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Well said, Dan.  Thanks for the input & support!

Photo of James Campbell
Team

Hello Matthew, I love the impact that your idea could bring to the college and real world process.  I would love to connect you with members of my team at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School.  They are redesigning the high school transcript and developing our Innovation Diploma Transcript.  

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

I'd love the opportunity to share & learn!

Photo of Lori Corcoran
Team

Matthew Drewette-Card what a forward way of thinking about the diploma! You make such an important point of the diploma not being a proper representation of what skills a student has mastered. 
I teach at a Career and Technical school and our students leave us with a diploma and a checklist of skills mastered in their trades. However, I think we could improve in both areas. I like the idea of your three tiers, as this would be a more accurate representation of both academic and CTE skills they have attained.
Thank you!

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

In light of the current collaboration's focus on barriers to college pathways, I'm immediately wondering about another piece of the design.  How might we also design a delivery system for these transcripts such that post-secondary institutions and organizations are easily able to see a student's strengths and weaknesses?  

I love this model for differentiated diplomas and I've long argued that creating a more accurate, more informative story of student achievement is what will best mitigate the academic and vocational barriers in the path to post-secondary success.  

Wondering what other guild members who represent college admissions POVs might be able to join in on this particular idea as well.

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Thanks, Dan.  I just uploaded another visual (part of the overall presentation) that can articulate easily to colleges/staff exactly what the student knows/can do, when it's presented with the overall school profile.  An admissions officer, employer, etc. could look at the diploma progression chart and easily (and visually, not text-based) identify strengths, weaknesses, and growth potential.  Let me know your thoughts.

Photo of Edwin Lagos
Team

Matthew,

This is an awesome idea and something that it's really innovative. We have been working on having skill based report cards at our school and one of the challenges we have found is creating ways for students to show mastery of a skill. A student might create something to show he knows it now, but how do we truly know what he/she knows. We have moved away from tests and more towards reflection of the process of learning as well as an actual product of learning(still a work in progress). Within your idea, how would you envision students demonstrating mastery of a skill?

Like Michael, would love to join your team on this!

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

Mastery/Proficiency/Competency is based off of three core components:
1) Content.
The "stuff."  The "meat and potatoes."  The "Vegemite" of a "Vegemite Sandwich" (cue Men At Work's "Down Under")."  
2) Complexity.
The "how" and the "depth."  A taxonomy (Blooms, Marzano, DoK, etc) is most useful here.  Every standard/skill has a depth to it, so identifying that level of complexity is essential to prove mastery.
3) Autonomy.
The "secret sauce" that brings it all together.  All too often we (teachers) create tests, projects, or assignments for students to complete.  This leads to a culture of compliance over learning. An autonomous, proficient/masterful learner will know when to use the skill and content, and when not to use it.  To what extent are we really providing opportunities for students to show their autonomous learning capacity?
So how would students demonstrate mastery?

It depends on whether or not they can clearly and deeply articulate and show their depth and comprehensive understanding of the content, at the level of complexity required, autonomously.  How its done NEEDS to be the decision of the student.  We need to stop giving them the easy way out by US making the tests and doing all of the hard work.

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

To further the point, teachers, schools and districts get caught up with the idea of common assessments.  Instead, focus on developing common proficiency/mastery scales (I've attached a template we are using/piloting in the contribution).  This way, teachers from different content areas, schools, etc. can look at a student product and measure it based meeting the requirements (content, complexity, autonomy) on the scale.  Also, scales ARE different than rubrics (I've attached a flowchart to help explain that too).

Photo of Edwin Lagos
Team

I absolutely agree with those points. I find the idea of students creating their own ways to show their understand and it's definitely a point I'd love to delve into deeper with this team. 

Now, does mastery then come from one specific thing that students come up with on their own or do they instead show a body of work? 
Also, how do we help them focus on the process of learning (and self-document it) rather than just the outcome? 

These are things I still debate on how to best do. Would love to hear your thoughts on them. 

Photo of Matthew Drewette-Card
Team

There are standards students have to meet in order to earn the certification/diploma.  This is totally common in the greater world beyond schools.  So, lets mirror that.  A body of evidence is ideal, but depending on the situation, a performance could work as well.  For instance, if a standard was to focus on language interpretation and analysis (i.e. "Interpret, analyze, and evaluate appropriately complex literary and informational texts"), the scale would be based off of that language in the standard.  Then, students could write poetry, a rap, a movie, a graphic novel, a 3-D representation, or a research paper.  The product would then be collaboratively evaluated (teachers & students) through the lens of: "Interpret, analyze, and evaluate appropriately complex literary and informational texts."  

It's all about those three criteria for mastery/proficiency: content, complexity, and autonomy.  To be proficiency or at mastery at anything, a student should "Independently Apply All Expectations."  The learning environment then molds and fits around the pathway the student needs.