“What is proficiency-based learning, are we doing it in our science classrooms, and if not, what will we have to change so that we do so?”
The Next Gen Science Standards has perhaps completed the shift that was started by the Vermont Framework of Standards. This shift has been a move from memorization, linear labs and passive assessment to active inquiry, open ended investigation and performance assessment.
In other words, a shift from content coverage to “doing science”.
With this in mind, a school that has embraced the NGSS might, in fact, already be “doing” proficiency based learning, or at least something very close to it. If the school made the appropriate changes in curriculum, instruction and assessment, it should be well placed to complete its transition to proficiency based learning with the Next Gen Science Standards.
In my experience working with schools and teachers, one aspect of this shift that often is most lingering is traditional grading. This is a particular challenge as it often is based on school-wide practices and systems (reports card, transcripts etc).
This brief presentation outlines the scope of the shift for science classrooms to move to a proficiency, or competency model.