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SHERIDAN, OR, August 06, 2015 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Competency-based learning. Proficiency-based learning. Mastery-based learning. All are terms that are gaining popularity in both public and private sectors. All boil down to the concept of instruction, assessment, grading and academic reporting that are based on "students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education," according to EdGlossary.org.
The Delphian School, a private boarding and day school based in Sheridan, Oregon in the heart of the Willamette Valley, has been teaching students based on this philosophy since before those terms came into broad use or were even a "thing" at all. In fact, Delphian is about to celebrate their 40th year as a pioneer in proficiency-based education. They believe this method works, and the fact that over 87% of their students are accepted into college and higher education, they believe, proves it.
The general goal of proficiency-based learning, according to EdGlossary.org, is to "ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, careers, and adult life. If students fail to meet expected learning standards, they typically receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve proficiency or meet the expected standards."
At Delphian it's no different. Students are encouraged to take the knowledge and skills they learn and put it into real-world situations so students can immediately see a purpose for it--rather than just having to memorize a bunch of facts that later have to be regurgitated on a test.
Not only that, Delphian School students are encouraged to apply the knowledge and skills specifically to things they're interested in. For example, if a student wants to become a photographer, then he or she would be encouraged to study physics and the light spectrum, and demonstrate how those concepts apply to their lives through a photography project.
In the case of student, Kylor Melton, (now a graduate and alumnus of Delphian), he loved skateboarding.
"I was learning all about trig, and I asked myself, 'How can I ever use this?'" says Melton. He had the idea to make a skateboard using Trigonometry." For those of us who are a little fuzzy on our high school math, Trigonometry (from Greek trigonon, "triangle" and metron, "measure") is a branch of mathematics that studies relationships involving lengths and angles of triangles.
So, Melton set to work creating a skateboard using tangents, co-tangents, algebraic numbers, proportions, and, well, you get the idea. Melton discovered that the ability to use the data he learned to solve a real-world problem was more important than just the data itself. Meaning that the data all by itself does nothing unless something can be done to put it to use in solving a real-world problem, building something, creating something, and more.
In a popular YouTube video that just reached 32,190 views, shot and edited by students and alumni of the Delphian School, you can see Kylor's project and how Delphian puts proficiency-based education to use:
"This is my science class. This is my Trigonometry class. This is my Algebra class," says Melton.
The Delphian School is an independent, coeducational day and boarding school located in Sheridan, Oregon open to students from around the world. We offer a rigorous academic independent-study program with a strong emphasis on practical learning for primary through high school students. Delphian also offers a highly regarded international entry program and boasts a diverse, international student body representing over eighteen countries.
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