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High Schools of the Future

It's encouraging to learn that some states are combining real-world experience with academic innovation ("Reinventing high school," The Christian Science Monitor, May 21).  The strategy is engaging students in what they need to be successful after graduation.

New Hampshire is in the vanguard of this movement. Rather than rely on off-the-shelf standardized tests, Manchester School of Technology High School in New Hampshire uses performance assessment created by teams of teachers with expertise in their field.  Students move along only when they demonstrate learning, rather than rack up seat time. 

The same approach can be applied to English and other non-technical subjects.  For example, students can be required to make a presentation of their work reviewing a movie or a book.  I like the motto: "As fast as you want, as slow as you need."  Depending on their ability and motivation, they feel more in control of their education. 

Today's youth are far more sophisticated than we appreciate.  They're exposed to images on a daily basis that prior generations lacked.  As a result, it's counterproductive to insist on using dated pedagogy. Yet so many high schools persist in doing that and then wonder why their students are disaffected.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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