Student choice to the course level is key to making sure that every student has the best possible education and dramatically increasing investment in adaptive digital content. But how do we avoid a crazy digital iTunes-like version of the shopping mall high school?
One of the big unappreciated benefits of good small schools (and what distinguished them from bad small schools) is coherence. By coherence, I mean that everything works together for kids and teachers–a core curriculum supported by structure, schedule, staffing, connections, and resources. The opportunity to produce a coherent program and the potential that students will gain the benefits of a coherent program are diminished if kids take whatever they want.
One solution would be an advisor. The individual learning plan proposed in some states would actually be a good idea if it weren’t universally used to block choice–Students are routinely discouraged from taking online or dual enrollment courses because schools don’t want to lose the revenue. The policy questions is how to encourage smart school and course choices that adds up to an efficient/effective pathway to graduation.
One solution is to make students/families pick a primary provider–district, charter or online school–for transcript management and guidance. District schools will still discourage choice, but perhaps a state mandated choice info system will help a bit.
Have a better idea?