Using Time Purposefully

Time is a precious commodity in schools, and when working to ensure that all students achieve proficiency, every moment matters.

One of the foundational principles of proficiency-based learning is the recognition that students learn in different ways and at different rates. To honor and apply this principle, educators will need to make instructional decisions that are based on each student’s unique needs, while also holding every student to the same high academic expectations. The axiom “learning is the constant and time is the variable” is often used to describe this general approach. In a proficiency-based learning system, teachers typically have more latitude and autonomy when it comes to designing learning experiences for students, but this opportunity for creativity demands strong time-management strategies and skills. School leaders will need to determine how scheduling can best support proficiency-based learning while also creating more opportunities for teachers to work together, plan together and learn together. Teachers may need to acquire new practices that help them personalize learning in the classroom. In addition, new policies and programs may need to be developed to support alternative forms of education, including expanded learning time and other outside-of-school learning opportunities.

The following resources address time-based strategies that can help to support proficiency-based learning in your school:

  • The National Center on Time and Learning. The National Center on Time and Learning is dedicated to expanding learning time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded education. The website features a variety of resources and research on using learning time more effectively.
  • Expanded Learning Time Initiative. Mass 2020's Expanded Learning Time Initiative in Massachusetts is redesigning schools to offer children new learning and enrichment opportunities made possible because of an expanded school schedule.
  • It's Not a Matter of Time. A report on the 2011 Competency-Based Learning Summit.