“Pretesting was very important to establishing my son at RPA. He only needs instruction once. He immediately gets it. So the concept of proficiency was very important, and that it was practiced and used. ‘If they know it, prove it and move on to learning something else.’ ”
We know that students learn in different ways and at different paces, and that their proficiency varies subject by subject. Using proficiency as the academic measurement acknowledges this. It creates flexibility for the teachers to teach according to each student’s needs; flexibility for students to demonstrate what they’ve learned in ways that best communicate the skill level they’ve achieved; and flexibility for teachers to evaluate if they’ve achieved an acceptable level of learning.
Proficiency at RPA equals the demonstration of learning.
In traditional educational systems, students have a finite amount of time (generally one term) to achieve the predetermined academic goals set before them. Many are able to do so, but many others are unable. Other students are bored because they have easily achieved the goals and have nothing left to do.
At RPA, students take as little or as much time as they need to achieve their own academic goals. Each student, having chosen a unique class schedule, moves forward toward mastery of concepts. If students need more time to demonstrate their learning, they arrange this with their instructor. If they have finished, they move on to new challenges.
Yes! At RPA our grading scale recognizes:
There are a couple of ways to consider proficiency grading. First of all, all students fall somewhere on a continuum in terms of their learning abilities. Some are high achievers in all subjects and some struggle with most subjects, while the majority fall somewhere in the middle. They do work at a steady grade level in most subjects or they bounce between doing well in some subjects and struggling with others.
RPA’s proficiency model works with each student at the point they place on the continuum subject-by-subject and class-by-class. As a result, a student who enjoys the humanities may be taking classes at an accelerated pace and earning As. That same student may struggle with math and may see a C or proficiency as an acceptable measure of their accomplishment (and interest). From RPA’s perspective, that student is achieving a balance between achieving proficiency in core subjects, while also having the opportunity to blossom where his or her true interests and talents are.
It’s also a philosophy. Students are given the time and support they need to achieve proficiency without the burden of taking classes over and over, and without the stigma of failing. Key to this is the emphasis RPA puts on students owning their education and defining the level of success they want to achieve, and it contributes to a learning environment that is academically challenging, while accepting students’ differences.
Remember, RPA values the individual student over the standardized systems found in traditional high schools. If the student is engaged and meeting or exceeding proficiency on a regular basis or seeking help when they need it, we consider the model to be working. There is also the cultural aspect of RPA. Given the very diverse population and inclusive nature of the students, staff and faculty, RPA is a safe and comfortable place for many students who may have struggled elsewhere and their academic performance often improves accordingly.
YES! RPA is public charter high school sponsored by the Redmond School District (but with its own Board of Directors) and teaching to the core standards set by the state of Oregon. RPA is accredited by the Northwest Accrediting Commission, the same accrediting organization that serves the other public high schools in Central Oregon. Any student graduating from RPA with a 24- or 28-credit diploma is eligible to apply to colleges and universities in the United States.