Will our school leaders change how we teach?

The Empire has reported on the low success rate of our Juneau students. The problem is that our schools continue to teach the same way expecting to get better results. The solution seems obvious to me; it means changing how we teach.


Students learn at different paces. The age gap in a class can be almost one year. The level of maturity can vary a lot. We define our students by grade level and promote them based on their age, not on having accomplished a level in a subject. Without having learned a basic we promote them to a higher level where they fail. Here is an example

A student struggles learning addition and subtraction. The student gets promoted to the next grade (level) to learn multiplication and division. When the student struggles with multiplication and division, we promote the student to prealgebra. Eventually the student gets so far behind that catching up becomes impossible. The student recognizes he/she is failing and feels bad about it. Why study and try when the school sets you up to feel like a failure?

The solution is to not have grade levels but rather subjects broken up into segments where the student must successfully complete a segment before going on to the next level. This means that most of the students in a segment will be at the same leaning level, not competing against others who are more advanced. It means that students succeed because they can work at a pace that fits their learning ability. Graduating from high school occurs when the student has completed all segments in all subjects needed to graduate.

Will our school leaders change how we teach? Probably not. That is not how we have always done it.

Gary Miller,



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