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CHARLESTON -- School officials better clarified a big change to the learning practices at the middle school and the high school at the Mattoon School Board meeting Tuesday. 

The Mattoon school district Friday was accepted into the Competency-Based Pilot program through Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) that will allow the district to move to a more career and college readiness-focused model of learning.

According to the ISBE, the competency based model is centered on modernizing education to better focus on college and career preparation. Another piece of this model, is the change to the progression structure in the classroom to a more personalized model. 

According to the ISBE, students in competency-based systems have to demonstrate mastery of skills and concepts in order to advance instead of the traditional model of seat time, simply making it through to the end.

"So, if you are doing times tables multiplication, I am not going to move to double digit multiplication with you until you are ready for that," Christy Hild, Student Services director, said. "Like when you were in third grade, when multiplication was over, it was over and we were moving on...(Now) it is mastery learning." 

Elementary education in Mattoon has already implemented these practices in the classroom. For instance, students are separated out into different reading groups based on their reading skill level. 

Taking part in this program, the district will be expanding the scope of these practices to the middle school and high school.

As a part of their application to take part in the grant, Mattoon wanted to develop the personalized learning in the classroom as well as opening up pathways through the district to give students a feel for where they want to go outside of high school. 

This includes expanding learning programs outside the high school like the building trades program and other dual-credit programs to get real hands-on understanding of certain career fields. 

This will be a developing program for the district with no set timeline as of now when this program will be fully implemented. Hild said the district is currently in the beginning stages of that process.

As part of the pilot program, the district will be given access to a network of experts or consultants in this style of education to guide the district in implementing this competency based model in its schools.

The local district is one of four new districts to be joining the pilot program. Currently, 15 are participating in the program. 

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Contact Jarad Jarmon at (217) 238-6839. Follow him on Twitter: @JJarmonReporter



Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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