Over the course of two months, team members Lindsay Restino and Charlotte Windover along with two members from their larger group that combines the Communicating School Redesign course and M3:Mindset, Metacognition & Motivation, visited 650+ 9th-11th grade students in their advisory groups to talk to them about Act 77. “First, we started talking about Act 77 and then we tied that in to personal learning plans and all the different flexible pathways they will be able to access in the future—the freshmen will,” said Lindsey. “The main questions from high school students concerned proficiency-based grading and how that will affect getting into college. They were able to respond that colleges are changing and they were ready with a list of about 80 colleges that included Ivy League schools that are now meeting about proficiency-based grading and what type of transcripts they are looking for. Commenting on a visit to the Compass School recently, Lindsey noted that they have a very different type of transcript and yet “their kids are going to really amazing schools. If anything, it helps them that they look a little bit different from everyone else.”
They facilitated conversations with students who felt that as of now, school was working for them. However, a lot of students felt that school wasn’t working for them as it is now, so they were excited about the possibility of change. Some groups were really appreciative that students were coming to them with information because sometimes when things like this happen, they don’t know what’s actually happening. This was a direct way for students to ask questions and get answers. “I wouldn’t have known about Act 77 and all of the proficiency-based learning if I wasn’t chosen to take the course,” said Lindsey, “I think a lot of students have never even heard of it before. It was nice to give them a positive reinforcement of it from a student.” Charlotte noted that there were a lot of adults asking questions. “I know it was kind of weird for some in this case to talk to students who were a little more knowledgeable about some things,” she added with a smile.
After meeting with all of the 9th-11th graders, the girls decided to engage the middle schoolers, too, because this is going to affect them the most. Their take-away was that middle school students see the personal learning plans as something that’s going to help them. “For the high schoolers,” said Charlotte, “there’s a notion that it’s going to hurt them because of the college piece. High schoolers say, ‘How are colleges going to look at this?’ Middle schoolers say, ‘Are colleges going to look at this?’ It’s a different attitude.”