Consortium Schools Offer Alternatives to Traditional Curriculum

Carol’s Summary:
Consortium schools are not a very well-known academic system, but some experts such as Martha Foote, are now working to promote and explain the techniques and guidelines of this unique way of instruction. These schools do not necessarily use test scores to measure student progress and success, as so many others do.

Consortium schools are public schools that focus on using innovative strategies of teaching and measuring student development. Instead of standardized testing, student performance is evaluated on the basis of school projects, active discussions and essays. There are currently 28 in New York City.

Consortium schools began in New York City in the 1970s, by Deborah Meier and other instructors at Central Park East Secondary School. Currently, in order for consortium students to graduate, they must complete essays, research papers and science experiments, which are evaluated by their teachers and educators who may be from extraneous establishments.

Although these schools and their methods tend to cost more money, they boast higher graduation and college success rates than many other schools in New York City. About 77 percent of consortium school graduates go on to four-year colleges and universities. This is impressive considering that many consortium school students come from lower-income backgrounds.

Consortium schools offer an interesting difference in curriculum in comparison to traditional public schools, based on their methods of measuring student success. It has been known for years that many bright and hard-working students fail classes, simply due to the fact that their test-taking skills do not match the standards that are set.

However, it is necessary for school systems and districts to understand that standardized testing does not work for every child. LifeBound’s curriculum and coaching enables teachers to provide real-life connections and facilitate active discussion amongst students, which shows that there are many different options and avenues to help students succeed. To learn more about LifeBound’s coaching and curriculum, visit or e-mail for more information.

Intriguing alternative to rating schools by tests
by Jay Mathews
I have to question my own judgment and fair-minded-ness when I ignore–for three years! A report that raises important questions about the way we have been using test scores to rate schools.
I have always been open to better ways of assessing how our children are taught. But I usually say standardized tests are the best available tool at the moment. So I am embarrassed that it took me so long to read “Keeping Accountability Systems Accountable” by Martha Foote, published in the Phi Delta Kappan education journal in January 2007.
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