“I have never seen a community that has an opportunity like this one has to re-invent the K-12 school system,” Dennis Carlson told business leaders at a chamber of commerce meeting recently.
Carlson, the superintendent of the Grand Coulee Dam School District, said that the district will soon have a new K-12 facility, be debt free, and will be able to focus its attention on education.
That could allow for some serious rethinking of how that education is delivered, he said, touching on ideas such as promotion of students along subject lines they’ve mastered, rather than just lumping them in “grades.”
He sees a system in which students could advance as fast as they are capable of advancing.
“If a student is at fifth-grade level in math and second grade level in reading, then they should be able to move forward in their higher areas.”
He indicated that the new classrooms will have doors connecting to adjoining classrooms to make it easier for students to move up for special classes in subjects where they excel.
Carlson stated that he wants to guarantee graduating seniors of 2014 that they will be ready for college, the armed services or the labor market; and if not, the school district will assist them in doing so, paying their bills for tutoring. He has mentioned this to the school board and hopes that it will approve the idea.
Carlson said a school district in western Washington had such a guarantee and has never had to pay a dime on it.
The guarantee would mean that if a graduating student applied at a college and couldn’t pass the entrance exam, the school district would pay for a tutor to help them pass.
It would mean that if a graduating student tried to enter the armed forces and failed the entrance test, then the district would pay for a tutor to help them pass.
It would also mean that if a graduating senior tried to enter the workforce, but couldn’t pass appropriate tests, then the district would offer assistance.
Carlson spoke of returning to the seven-period day, which would allow students more opportunities to take classes not required but in areas of interest. The new graduation requirement is for 24 credits, which is all you can achieve in the current six-period day.
He also stated that he would like to see students take advantage of learning opportunities and experiences in the greater community.
All these ideas are in the talking stage at this time, Carlson stated.