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Flex Plan

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In an effort to reverse the dropout rate, New Hampshire’s State Department of Education is suggesting statewide changes in its curriculum. The state released a document this week, which upends traditional classroom instruction with a more flexible approach to learning.

The proposed suggestions include tallying learning hours rather than school days and replacing the standard curriculum with a more tailored one unique to each student’s interests. Teachers would mentor, rather than coach, and students would earn credits by mastering a subject instead of following a prescribed course. Each student would be accountable for maintaining high academic and personal standards. The plan, which was three years in the making, is tied to the state’s minimum standards, which were eased in 2005. Acknowledging the state's interest in encouraging flexibility, State board member Daphne Kenyon said, “My fundamental hope is that it will inspire high schools across the state to take advantage of the increased flexibility.”

Said Fred Bramante, state Board of Education member, “If we do this right, why would any kid drop out of high school?” The plan is already in place in certain New Hampshire high schools with a mandate for others to follow by the 2008-09 school year. The state expects to fine-tune the program once there is measurable data.

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When a student knows that failure to complete high school dooms him/her to a life of significantly limited income, why would they quit high school the way things are now? Is it possible that changing the "procedures" will make them see the importance of what they are doing? Is it possible that this is a solution in search of an appropriate problem?

I'm skeptical, but we'll have to wait and see ...

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