#5 Digging Deeper

Part l

In the Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Change” by Simon Sinek, the quote “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why they do it” came up several times throughout the video. I think one meaning behind this quote is that if you are only working towards the end result, for example making money, then you are not going to be as successful as you would be if you focused on why you are doing it and what you believe in. If you focus on your beliefs and share them with the world rather than only focusing on the end product, then people are going to be more inclined to follow you because they start to believe in why you are doing your mission and want to be a part of it. Another quote that that is along these lines is that “inspired leaders and inspired organizations regardless of their size and regardless of their industry all think, act, and communicate from the inside out”. In order to be successful and to accomplish what you want you need to start with the why, the purpose of what you’re doing, then the how, how are you going to complete your task, and then the what, which is the end result. By starting with the why you stay focused on the purpose of your mission instead of just working until the end. I think it is important for me to keep in mind why I am pursuing the topic of education reform while I continue on my social change project.

Part ll

I decided to research how schools across Vermont were approaching Proficiency Based Learning and the different ways they were adapting it to their school community. Although schools all have the same requirements within Proficiency Based Learning, schools can choose how they want to approach them. For example Harwood Union High School has a number of requirements in each core curricular that students need to meet before being eligible to graduate, including a senior project that all students must complete before the end of their senior year, all students in 9th grade are required to create a Personalized Learning Program, and has a set of common scoring guides that all students will be assessed with. Spaulding High School has also switched to Proficiency Based Learning and part of this change included switching to grading students on a scale of No evidence to Exemplary. For example on a student’s transcript instead of having a letter grade, like an A, Proficient would show up instead. Finally, I chose to include my school, Montpelier High School, and their approach to the system. In order to graduate students must be proficient in 7 learning expectations, which include  Reading, Writing, Communication, Problem Solving, Habits of Learning, Citizenship, and Creativity. MHS also has formative assessments, which could be a test, quiz, or homework, that measure a student’s learning process and provide feedback for both students and teachers. MHS also has summatives, which are 80% of  student’s grade and are given every four and a half weeks. Students then have a chance to “redo” these summative during midterm and finals week. This research about how schools have adapted parts of Proficiency Based Learning has shown me how although all schools in Vermont have the same guidelines, that each school is going to produce something different for its school community.

Part lll

My WHY: To have a better understanding of why Vermont is putting this act into place, to know how I am being graded on my work, to know how colleges view this new system.

My HOW: Talk with students, teachers, educators who create and supervise this act about their take of this new approach to learning, research how schools are adapting this new system.

My WHAT: Learn about proficiency based grading in schools across Vermont.

My Pitch: If you want to expand your learning outside of the classroom and experience opportunities that will prepare you for college and future careers, than education reforms such as Act 77 will provide this for you.


Allen, Josh. Spaulding High School , www.shsbtc.org/joomla/index.php/faqs.

Montpelier High School. “Proficiency-Based Teaching and Learning.” Home, mpsvt.org/index.php/mhs.

“Proficiency-Based Teaching and Learning.” Harwood Union High School, Edgeworks CMS, harwood.org/proficiency-based-teaching-and-learning.php.


2 Responses to “#5 Digging Deeper

  • Annie Bellerose
    7 years ago

    Hey Josie,

    It’s nice to see this all written out after talking about some of it this weekend. I so agree that belief-driven change makes a larger impact. You get to be the Wright brothers in this project, not that other guy who got a bunch of money to figure out a flying machine who’s name no one can remember. You have a vested interest in this project because it impacts so much of your life and you’re living it daily – like the Wright brothers.

    It’s fascinating that in the research you did for this post, you’re already seeing differences in how this aspect of Act 77 is being rolled out around the state. I think it could be interesting to include families in some of your investigation. How do parents feel about this shift, and why? You began to look at this in your very first post, and I think it could be good to keep on the table.

    The questions that are driving your Part III answers are solid, and I think will give you some good places to go next.

    Hope some of those resources I sent on will be useful, and I’m excited to see your thinking continue to evolve.

    Have a lovely week!


  • Josie,

    This is a really thoughtful post! It makes me think about the power of story to get at the “why.” As a reader and a librarian, I love stories! I find them really effective ways to share the emotional aspects of the why and the how, the very human side of change. What is the story Vermont schools would like to tell about education? What is the story they are currently telling?

    I also wonder how Simon Sinek’s talk is related to individual students on their path to learning. Do students currently know why they are learning what they are learning? How does a proficiency-based education system help them understand they why and how of learning?

    Thank you for giving me more to think about. I look forward to reading your next post!

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