11:38 PM EDT, April 26, 2012
A central Indiana school district is giving students more control over their education and doing away with grade levels in the process.
This past year students at Danville High School traded their textbooks for iPads. The corporation invested in the technology as a first step toward Mass Customized Learning.
The new method of learning allows students to schedule individual learning plans and work through subjects and lessons ahead of schedule.
"Instead of 12 grades, we're going to have levels of education that a student needs to progress through," said Danville Superintendent Dr. Denis Ward.
The Danville School Corporation has been studying Mass Customized Learning for several years, but will begin implementing a pilot program in selected classes at each of the four schools next year.
Dr. Ward says some parents have expressed concern and others have voiced opposition to the plan, which is why the pilot program will be optional in 2012-2013. If it proves successful Ward says it will be implemented for K-12 in 2013-2014.
"We want to make sure we're implementing the very best approach," Ward said.
Ward says the system has proven successful elsewhere, and he says everyone needs to be ready to make a change if the pilot program shows promise.
"If we continue to approach education the way it was created by our founders, we're never going to be able to teach all students 21st century skills," Ward said.
"It just sounds better than the (current) system," said David Vornholt, a Danville Sophomore.
"I like the concept," said David’s father, Jerry Vornholt.
Jerry says he read the book that outlines the Mass Customized Learning system, and he believes Danville is moving in the right direction. However, both father and son have questions.
"Ideally it sounds really good," David said. "It might be hard to get there. It might take a lot of trial and error kind of stuff."
"What kids are going to get lost in that process?” Jerry said. “Are there going to be kids who kind of get cheated out of an education during those years, months, whatever it takes to get this process down like it's supposed to be?"
Dr. Ward says he guarantees Danville Schools will not hurt students by making the change.
He says Danville could delay full implementation by another year if there are problems with the pilot classes.
Though students would be able to move fast enough to graduate earlier than normal, Ward says families would still decide whether a student moves immediately to college or stays in school to collect advanced credits.
For more information on Mass Customized Learning at Danville click here.