Most Viewed Stories
Students helping students
Lindsay students excel with performance based learning
LINDSAY — After being out of the country — and out of school — for a year, seventh grader Madelein Sol said she is thankful for the way school is taught at Jefferson Elementary.
The school, as well as all of the schools in the Lindsay Unified School District, offers a performance-based education system — one of the
The system allows students to work at their own pace with individualized plans. Before moving forward, they must
“It’s not about how old a learner (student) is or what grade you are in, it’s what knowledge you have,” said LUSD Superintendent Tom Rooney. “Kids learn in different ways but there is no traditional system that honors that.”
Lindsay Unified implemented the system five years ago after two years of planning.
If a student finishes algebra, Rooney said, he does not have to wait until everyone else catches up. That student can move forward. The same is true if the student can not grasp, or falls behind, a subject.
That is exactly what happened with Sol.
“Last year my family had to go to Mexico and I ended up missing a full year. Performance based helped me catch up,” Sol said. “I got behind in Language Arts but have been catching up. I’m already caught up, or ahead, on everything else. It’s been real helpful. And it’s better. You don’t feel as behind because everyone is at your level. [Teachers] meet us at whatever level we are and help us.”
Because all of the classes study the same subject at the same time, students can slide up or down a grade or two to receive the instruction at the level they need.
A sixth-grader can travel to a fifth-grade, or to a an eighth-grade, class for a math instruction, Sol Said.
However, classrooms also have groups where students help teach each other.
“We move around according to the content level,” said Ezekiel Lopez, a seventh grader at Jefferson. “We have our own sections. Instead of going to the learner facilitator (teacher) for help, we ask our group. Some of us are a few pages ahead or behind, so we work together and help each other. It makes them have more confidence and more faith in themselves.”
In addition, during the time set aside for elective classes — one set aside for music appreciation, computer lab, Rosetta Stone languages or other electives — several of the older students opt to be helpers in the younger classes.
“Some of us go and help in the young grades — kindergarten to third grade. We help them with their arithmetic or with reading. Sometimes we just read to them,” Lopez said.
The system helps all of the students obtain more confidence, said sixth grader Kate Garcia.
“Kids can experience their way of learning by their own speed. We’re not spoon-fed. We do it ourselves but our learning facilitators come to us when we need help the most,” Garcia said. “And by the time we get to CSTs [California Standards Testing] everyone is ready.”
Instructors also believe in the system.
“The main difference is that it allows the students to proceed at their own pace,” said Jefferson instructor Kevin Umphfres who has been teaching for 18 years. “I can reteach as needed or fast forward, for those moving ahead.”
More importantly, the system works, Rooney said, which is why it is implemented at every school in the district.
“It’s a system change. Not a pilot program in just one school. This is for all the kids at all the schools. If really embraced by the district, why not do it for all our learners,” Rooney said. “It’s for every kid, at every school and for every leader and every parent.”
Seeing students develop who were not able to make it in school before, is the reward, Rooney said.
“There’s a sense of pride, which is well deserved. Our high school kids are on fire,” Rooney said. “There is a deeper sense of pride in them. They are really excited about learning.”
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.