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It may have seemed controversial for a working DCPS teacher to pen a 4,500-word essay about how D.C. and other cities across the nation are passing students who are woefully unprepared to graduate and navigate the world ahead of them. But educators and readers seem to concede author Rob Barnett’s point that personalized learning should replace traditional course offerings.
Laura Wilson Phelan, the Ward 1 representative on the D.C. State Board of Education, wrote in to say that, based on recommendations from a task force she chaired, the state board has approved flexibility regulations allowing “competency-based learning in District high schools.”
“Previously, students could only receive credit for a ‘Carnegie unit,’ which generally requires spending 120 hours in a classroom and receiving a D- or higher,” Phelan wrote. “These new regulations allow schools to create innovative programs that would award credit for student demonstration of mastery of content, without regard to location or time related to the acquisition of content. With these new regulations, schools can now apply for a waiver to offer competency-based courses, much along the lines of Mr. Barnett’s suggestions.”
And retired DCPS teacher Erich Martel wrote, “Kudos to the CP for printing DCPS high school teacher Rob Barnett’s honest and revealing account of the widespread policy of giving high school diplomas to students whose end-of-course grades do not represent mastery of even minimal course content. He should be thanked by all D.C. residents for bringing this issue to light. Unearned diplomas based on unearned grades are like counterfeit money: They cheat the recipients and erode institutional trust between principals, teachers, and counselors and between them and the chancellor and the administrative hierarchy.”
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Last week’s piece about the work of Dupont Underground (“Tunnel Vision,” May 19) incorrectly reported that DU’s theater in residence, Alliance for New Music-Theater, is based in New York. It is in fact based in D.C.