What does performance-based mean?
Our students are capable of exceeding standards—and showing us how they do it. We see this in learning environments like Gibson Ek in Issaquah. Gibson Ek requires students to document their learning in a “portfolio” that shows their best, most impactful work, and their journey to get there. Students shadow and intern with real companies or organizations, develop problem-solving solutions for their community, and meet standards in all subjects with evidence-based projects. These learning experiences are all analyzed and documented, usually online.
Connor was not sure if a school like Gibson Ek would help him succeed. As a freshman, he was interested in architecture, science, and medicine. At age fourteen, Connor began interning and participating in mentorships with professionals. Throughout his high school career, Connor worked with a mentor from Boeing, the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Seattle Genetics, Gensler Architects, Seattle Children’s, a cell biology expert at Simon Fraser University, and Down to Earth Community Gardens—a nonprofit that helped him complete a community food sustainability project his senior year. His work is documented online and shows what he’s learned.
As a freshman at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), Connor reflected on his high school experience. Connor said simply, “the experience was life changing.” The “show what you know” process and hands-on learning in high school taught him important life skills, offered him real-world experience, and gave him a head start over his peers in “time management.” In college, Connor studies kinesiology and wants to do research in sports science (a project in high school sparked his interest).
Seniors at Gibson Ek Today
Other students like Connor are thriving at Gibson Ek. Students are excited to go to school and they appreciate their personalized learning. They continue to work with their community and hold mentorships (one student has one with Lego in Denmark). These students meet standards, and excel as they think about their learning and their relationship to the world as adults (or future adults).
House Bill 1308 (adding a performance-based pathway option)
All students should have opportunities like the ones at Gibson Ek, and should be able to reflect on their learning. House Bill 1308 would add an additional, performance-based pathway option to the state-required graduation pathway options. Gibson Ek portfolios are great examples of performance-based pathways. Find more information on this bill at sbe.wa.gov/waleg. Download the two-page description.
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