Monday, August 26, 2019

Personalized Pathways

West High is "pausing" its "Personalized Pathways" program.

I missed its introduction. "enrollment is frozen in Pathways, which is designed to introduce students to possible careers and prepare them with a post-graduation plan. The school is hitting the pause button as it looks to address concerns that the program has not shown an improvement in student outcomes." It is "a second track of study that will have a cohort of freshmen focus their learning through an information technology (IT) and communications perspective."

Pathways is billed as an interconnected, experiential approach where learning is centered around a career field; students form tight-knit communities with classmates and teachers within the pathway; and material learned in one class is connected to other classes.


Through core classes and related electives, the new track will expose students to skills and career fields such as cybersecurity, coding, network infrastructure, video production, graphic design and strategic communications.

Why the pause? Maybe because they are trying to make the program do things it isn't designed for.

There has not been the anticipated improvement in attendance, grades and behavior, prompting the school to not take on a new cohort of students this year, Boran said.

I gather from her statement that there was "room for improvement" with the behavior and attendance of the students selected. "But at West High, the Pathways students had a higher course failure rate compared with students doing traditional coursework. Pathways students at West also had the lowest attendance rate in 2017-18 among Pathways students at the four high schools."

Just a thought--if you're going to design a program for motivated students, you might want to populate it with motivated students. Self-discipline comes first. If they haven't got that yet, start with elementary incentives--but in the end you can't make them.

The different schools came up with their own mottoes: "such as “empowering voice through innovation” at East and “changing the face of information technology and communication” at La Follette." I'm afraid my immediate reaction to "empowering" recalled Dilbert: "The 'Principle of employee empowerment'? Why would you have a special phrase for something like that? If you could really make decisions on your own it would never occur to you to invent a phrase for it."

Do I smell magical thinking?


The Mad Soprano said...

"Empowerment" doesn't actually mean anything at this point. It's just another pretty buzzword that gets thrown around like pepper shot, especially in academic settings, to the point where I think it's causing more harm than good.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I'm going to have a go at this, but it's dinnertime, and I also have a fantasy football draft to prepare fore, and lastly, I have had too many glasses of wine to think precisely. Amusingly, yes. Precisely, no.

But there are a lot of places to go, here.