Qualifying for the Basic Proficiency Plan
Posted 2017-03-19 10:43:30
For ten years, I have laid a focus on "differentiated instruction" in my classes. The reason to do this was the need to teach the class at the same level of difficulty as the standardized test in my subject so as to increase the number of students passing these examinations. Students with weaker academic abilities needed scaffold support to reach this level. From there was born "Basic Proficiency", a scaled-down curriculum delivering "just enough to pass" so students all have a greater access to reach the standards.
The basic proficiency concept has a solid research base and a set of studies I conducted over the past ten years that supports its continued use. However, I do have some reservations that will require some adjustment in the system.
I have always left the choice of difficulty level to the students. They could switch as the year went by, trying the regular curriculum in topics that interested them. I have been mostly in agreement with students' choices over the years and let this be. However, this year something cultural has changed: a large number of students who have no academic weakness are choosing the basic proficiency just so they can do less. I thought at first that this would be a short-lived phenomena, however I was wrong. In one grade level during the February topic of study, only three students in the class did the regular curriculum. In my view, this is much like parking in the handicapped parking space at the supermarket parking lot. In response, I will now hold to the policy that students may select the basic proficiency curriculum provided they meet one of three criteria: they have an IEP, or the have a plan under section 504, or they are enrolled in the Academic Intervention Service (AIS). Students who are not covered by any of these will not be permitted to do basic proficiency.