California District Sees Improvement With Competency-Based Learning Model

The Wall Street Journal (3/11, Banchero, Subscription Publication) reports on competency-based learning focusing on the Lindsay Unified School District in Lindsay, California, where students are not divided by ages but by levels, so that one class may contain students from 11 to 14 years old working on the same material. Only once they master the material do they pass on to the next level. That means that some students move quickly to more advanced levels. There are now 29 states that allow such models, and the Administration has awarded Race to the Top funding to Lindsay and other districts to implement the model. The district, nearly all of whose students are Latino and all qualify for free lunches, has shown improvements on state tests since adopting the model. In addition, suspensions and gang membership fell.