Innovative Standards-based Graduation Models

Below is a compilation of resources of documents and a few schools & school models that use powerful innovative approaches to meeting standards through a combination of proficiency-based approaches and performance assessment.


Resource documents:
  • white paper by Linda Darling-Hammond (PDF) that gives a thorough overview of what highly designed student assessment looks like
  • A brief informal interview with a leader in authentic assessment, Grant Wiggins, with a good intro to performance-based assessment
  • Vermont's state Board "School Quality Standard" Rule re: Competency based graduation, supporting the use of performance-based assessment

Urban Academy and the New York State Performance Standards Consortium: The NY Consortium, with Urban Academy as it's lead school, have pioneered proficiency-based performance assessment for many years.  Students complete projects and give presentations to the school community and qualified experts, who then evaluate the work to determine if it has met the mutually agreed upon standards or "proficiencies."   

Big Picture Schools: Started as a single school in 1995 in Providence, RI, Big Picture now support over 60 schools around the U.S. and the world practicing personalized learning and learning through internships.  All public schools, they have developed a strong system to meet the state standards and engage young people in learning and pursuing their talents and interests.

Jefferson County Open School - Lakewood, CO: Jeffco Open School is a national leader in innovative, student-directed learning, with a thoughtfully-designed assessment process that outlines the school's values and educational goals and translates them into a series of graduation expectations and extensive projects which they call Passages, all while meeting state standards.

EdVisions Network of Schools - based in Henderson, MN: EdVisions schools, starting with the initial Minnesota New Country School in Henderson, Minnesota, feature project-based personalized learning and use an online tracking software called Project Foundry. They now support over 30 schools around the country.
  • EdVisions' Design Essentials (PDF) - specific to EdVisions schools, but valuable document that can be adapted to different settings
  • Video on graduation, standards, and their Project Foundry online tracking software.

Tags for this entry:
curriculum, assessment, standards, performance

Related Resources:

Opportunities to Learn in America’s Elementary Classrooms

Rethinking Schools

School Climate Assessment Instrument

Classroom Climate Assessment Instrument

The Hope Survey