Lindsay Unified Public Schools (LUSD) is a 4,200 student K-12 district in California’s Central Valley. Lindsay High School enrolls 1,036 9th-12th graders. The district uses a “performance-based” learning system in which every student (who Lindsay terms "Learner")  progresses through learning standards at their own pace. Teachers (called “Learning Facilitators”) guide Learners towards resources and provide direct supports as they develop evidence of mastery and move along their own pathways.


Launched in 2007 through the adoption of a visionary, district-wide strategic plan, LUSD has steadily become a model for competency-based learning nationally. The district uses blended learning as a mechanism for supporting their model, helping Learners develop foundational knowledge and supporting them through cycles of inquiry that lead to deeper learning. LUSD uses a number of tools to do this, but relies heavily on Empower, a competency-based learning management system, to support its model.

This page profiles LUSD’s High School English Language Arts approach.

Learning In Action

Learners at Lindsay High School have a great deal of voice and choice. Their days are split between self-directed learning time and Facilitator-led instruction. During self-directed learning, Learners follow playlists that are custom-created for them based on their learning needs. They are given multiple opportunities throughout the day and week to work on these, and are able to choose what to work on from the learning activities aligned to each objective. Even during Facilitator-led instruction, Learners are often able to choose from a variety of assignments as the Facilitators spend most of their time on small group and individual instruction.

The flexibility for the Learner that these choices provide, combined with a mastery-based learning system, creates a powerful learning experience for Learners. Learners who are behind are able to catch up, and those who wish to move ahead may due so. All Learners are more active participants in their learning, leading to greater ownership and engagement. Lindsay High’s Learners are not only able to attain mastery, but also gain life skills that will help them be successful beyond school.

Teaching In Action

Learning Facilitators at LUSD are focused on building lifelong learners. Within academic content areas, Facilitators are constantly seeking to provide Learners choice and voice in self-directed learning. In addition to academic content areas, LUSD provides instruction for lifelong learning skills. Lindsay Facilitators also modify Learners’ learning so it can be mastery based, allowing Learners more choice over the pace of their learning.

Learner choice in content and pacing provides a unique challenge to LUSD Facilitators as they have to cater to each individual Learner’s learning needs. Facilitators leverage an online system called Empower (formerly Educate) to analyze Learner data, determine personalized learning pathways, and provide resource choices to Learners in their academic content area. Facilitators help meet Learners’ needs by providing feedback, small groupings, one-on-one instruction, remediation, direct instruction, and other instructional practices. Blended instruction has enabled Facilitators to better meet Learner needs, leading to increased engagement and academic success.


Strategies

In-Person Learning

Learners work in age-based, grade-level cohorts within a traditional classroom structure (one educator in a classroom). Facilitators usually begin class with a group launch, followed by personalized learning time where students work in a self-paced manner. Facilitators pull small groups, conference, and provide direct instruction as needed.


Technology

Lindsay has a one-to-one device ratio (Learners use Chromebooks) and an innovative home Wi-Fi initiative. Learners access content through Empower.


Integration

Lindsay's program implementation is fully blended at all times. Learners work on their devices alone, with peers, and with their Facilitators throughout class.


Personalization

Learners have choice over what to work on, their pace, what resources to use to learn with, and what level of mastery they'd like to aim for. Differentiation is created through grouping strategies, one-on-one support, and the availability of multiple content resources on playlists.


Mastery-Based Progression

Lindsay High School is structured with traditional 9th-12th grades. Learners, however, are not limited to learning within their specific grade. Learners who are behind are able to backfill earlier learning objectives and Learners who are ahead are able to learn multiple years’ worth of content in a single year. Lindsay aligns learning objectives against the Common Core State Standards and Lindsay's Lifelong Learning Standards. Facilitators define four levels of mastery, and Learners must achieve at least a Level 3 in order to move on.


Replication and Scale

Lindsay has replicated its performance-based learning approach across all grades and campuses. This replication is strongly supported by a district-wide vision and commitment, including competency-based grading, investments in technology infrastructure, and support and training for teachers. 


Conditions for Success

Educators seeking to try out this model with their students should keep the following key needs in mind:

  • Staffing: Lindsay's model deploys within a traditional classroom structure. Facilitators work in a ratio to Learners that is similar to most public schools (roughly 24 students per teacher).
  • Devices: This model requires that every student have access to a learning device at all times. 
  • Content: This model relies heavily on content available through a learning management system called Empower. Some of this content is paid, but none is proprietary to Lindsay alone.
  • Broadband/Connectivity: Students must have adequate connectivity at all times (Lindsay Unified has also worked to provide community Wi-Fi to support Learner work at home).

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