Minneapolis Public Schools officials are retooling the high school experience to be more personalized for students.
Driven by a need to close the achievement gap, district officials say they want more individualized learning for each student. That may include different types of assessments, other than just the standard multiple-choice test on a computer.
“We know some students are experiencing success and others are not,” Kimberly Matier, the district’s deputy chief academic officer, said at a recent meeting. “These are key changes we need to develop to ensure our students have success.”
Currently high school students tend to take very similar classes, standardized exams and career counseling. With the district’s new design, students would have “personalized learning maps” that they would access online or on an app. The students would input a goal, such as becoming a lawyer. The map would then act like a GPS system, district officials said, telling them which courses they should take and offering ideas for extracurricular activities. An adult mentor and parents would be able to track the students’ progress.
“It’s not just strictly academic. It also has social supports needed for that student,” Matier said. “Everybody will be fully informed.”
In addition to the app, district officials want to give high school students greater access to rigorous coursework. That includes adding advance placement courses at all high schools and creating partnerships with local businesses and other community organizations to bring real-world experiences into the classroom.
The district also wants to give students more flexibility with assessments. Right now, most students have to take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) to prove they are proficient in math, science and reading. The district wants to allow students to present a portfolio or a project to show that they have mastered various subjects.
The redesign is scheduled to begin in fall 2017.