Crefeld has been a school affiliated with Ted Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) whose principles are found posted throughout the school. CES helps schools build effective learning communities, focused on student outcomes. The organization works with schools to promote innovative and effective teaching. George and the staff have been greatly influenced by CES, which he believes is to be a program resonant with the mission of Crefeld.
If you've been following this blog, I am sure you are seeing the pattern, progressive schools are inclined to deeply understand their students and develop programs that address their interests and needs. As opposed to the prescriptive, one-size-fits-all approaches which start with the teacher as dispenser of knowledge and wisdom, this approach fits well with 21st Century priorities, by trusting students and helping cultivate their character and independence as learners.
The added pressure to prepare students for college manifests through a creative portfolio program. At Crefeld, students complete a graduation portfolio which demonstrates fifteen competencies. The portfolio is comprised of projects and exhibitions (one of which must be focused on leadership) that the students have constructed, guided carefully by a teacher -advisor and a well developed criteria. The staff worked painstakingly to create the criteria and make adjustments annually. Teachers evaluate the portfolio and determine how best to challenge the students based on their developmental readiness and maturity. In sum, the portfolio not only allows the students to demonstrate their growing skill and competence, but is a vehicle for cultivating student voice, expression, and confidence.
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