Open Education

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"Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire"
-William Butler Yeats


Curriculum at the Jefferson County Open School (JCOS) encourages student ownership of learning, demands documented or demonstrated competency of Graduation Expectations (requirements), and allows for a highly individualized path towards graduation. Our goal is that through self-direction, shared responsibility, and meaningful experiences, every graduate will realize his or her unique potential to create the world that ought to be.

JCOS curriculum is distinct from curriculum at many other public and private schools in several ways:

  • Students graduate from JCOS on the basis of demonstrated competencies rather than the more traditional "seat time" and grades which add up to what is commonly known as Carnegie units or credits.
  • Open School classes are both ungraded and non-graded:
    • Ungraded: Students write narrative self-evaluations in order to complete classes and teachers respond indicating whether a student has achieved an appropriate level of proficiency.
    • Non-graded: Students enroll in a multi-aged grouping such as Early Learning Center (typically grades 1-3) or Pre-Walkabout (typically grades 7-9), and the vast majority of course offerings are multi-aged.
  • Students are not expected to graduate in a specified time period but are expected to remain at JCOS until sufficient personal, social, and intellectual growth has taken place.

In addition to coursework, students must complete six Passages or major independent projects (see: self-directed curriculum) and other activities such as teaching a class, participating in service projects or off-campus internships, and independent study plans.

Students graduate when they are able to demonstrate competency in Graduation Expectations, which have been custom-crafted by the JCOS community to fit the mission and goals of the school. The Graduation Expectations were created by students, parents, advisers, teachers, and administrators knowledgeable in various disciplines with reference to the principles of open education, social-emotional research, the Colorado State Model Content Standards, and more.

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