Proficiency Based Education
Desiderata programs reward students for a job well done. When students demonstrate proficiency in a subject area, they receive credit for that subject.
In traditional schooling systems, credit is based to a large extent on the amount of time a student spends in a classroom. Students’ grades are then generally determined based on the percentage of correct work submitted during a specified amount of time.
We do not believe this is the most efficient or effective method of documenting academic progress for everyone. We adhere to the "quality, not quantity" belief. Because understanding class material and its real life application is always our goal, all students of Desiderata must receive a "B"(80%) or better on all coursework before proceeding on to another assignment or completing a course for credit. Until a student demonstrates sufficient proficiency, coursework is considered in-progress.
Desiderata students have the option of "course challenging" (testing out of a course) if they feel they understand the material required to pass that course. Students receive full credit for any course successfully challenged. In other words, a student may feel he or she knows all of the material covered in Pre-Algebra and wants to proceed immediately to Algebra I. If he or she can take the Pre-Algebra exit exam and pass it with a "B" or above, full credit for the Pre-Algebra course is earned, and the student may move on to Algebra I.
Some of the most respected experts in the field advocate the idea of proficiency based education.
Hal Plotkin, senior education adviser in the presidential administration, says proficiency-based education is "… an antidote to boredom in the classroom and a way to make sure that students are being exposed to the most relevant education possible."