Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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March 12, 2013

Future of DCSC pilot programs up in the air

DANVILLE — The school board here received a presentation on the corporation’s Mass Customized Learning (MCL) pilots at its meeting Monday night, but have put off making a decision on whether the pilots will stay.

The MCL pilots were instituted throughout the school corporation in various subjects at the beginning of this school year. They are designed to allow students to take control of their own learning and achieve a mastery level before advancing. A typical lesson consists of a pre-test, work stations, direct instruction, post-test, remediation if necessary, and then a performance assessment, which must be completed before the student can move on.

The performance assessments allow teachers to gauge if a student is truly ready to move on to the next topic, by making the student explain and apply the newly learned skill, not just answer multiple choice questions. The pilots also utilize technology such as iPads.

The DCSC faculty’s presentation consisted of testimonies from faculty, including principals and pilot classroom teachers, as well as data comparing the traditional classrooms to those in the pilots.

However, faculty conceded that the amount of data, while sometimes encouraging, is slim at this time, with it being only the first year.

Krissy Strack, a first-grade teacher at Danville North Elementary School, was one of several teachers on hand who spoke about the pilot program and mastery learning.

Strack told the board and those in attendance that the mastery learning method has affected her positively as a teacher.

“I’m proud that I work in a district that allows us to try mastery learning this year and it impacted myself, my (students’) parents, and as I call them, my kiddos, and I will always be a better and stronger teacher because of it,” she said.

The other pilot classroom teachers on hand echoed similar sentiments, saying that even though there were tough times and some struggles, they felt like the MCL pilots and mastery learning program was the right fit.

Danville Middle School Principal Matt Vandermark said he was proud of the work that has been put into the program at his school

and the corporation as a whole.

“We can’t even begin to show our appreciation to the people who are involved in this,” he said. “They have put their blood, sweat, and tears ... into this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen people work so hard in my life to try to get something so right. For that, the administration and everyone that has been working on this, we really appreciate that. We cannot say enough how much we do appreciate the work that they’ve done.”

Fifth-grade teacher Angie Smith compared where the corporation is now with this program, to the recent major accomplishments of Danville’s wresting team, saying they could have quit but continued to fight.

“It’s not going to be on the data right now, but it will be in less than five years — it might be next year,” Smith said. “But if you give up on it right now, (the data will never show up) and we’ll be going back to  the comfort zone and we’re going to get the same results.”

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