Bryce Bragdon is passionate about math, science and music. In school, this sixteen-year-old sophomore at Hall-Dale High School in Maine is at the top of his class and on track to finish all of the math courses offered at his school by the end of his junior year, and science up to AP Physics 2. “He credits his achievements to achievements in math and science to his learner-centered school system and believes that learner-centered learning is a good opportunity for most learners,” said Randy Ziegenfuss in a recent episode of the podcast he co-hosts called Shift Your Paradigm.
Lynn Fuini-Hetton and Ziegenfuss interviewed a panel from the Maine RSU2 school district, which included Bragdon, Superintendent Bill Zima and Principal Mark Tinkham. The three discuss how RSU2 has transformed to a learner-centered competency-based learning system.
“At RSU2, we’ve always felt that the true power of proficiency-based [or competency-based education] is so you can become learner-centered,” said Zima during the discussion.
Bragdon discussed his own experiences with the learner-centered environment, specifically sharing projects that allowed him to pursue his personal passions across class subjects. For example, in a science class about waves, he studied sound waves to make connections between science class and a personal interest in music.
“When we were in school, it was like a factory; no matter where we were, it was all the same pace,” said Tinkham. For the students in his grade 6-12 school, it’s different.
Within a learner-centered compet4ency-based program, students can accelerate when able, as well as get extra supports when needed. By adapting learning to what makes sense for the individual student, learners are getting more of what they need from the school system instead of fitting themselves into a pre-determined mold.
For students like Bragdon and Emily Levasseur, this learner-centered competency-based model is opening up opportunities and developing student agency.