We believe that a fundamental shift must take place in education if we expect students to be equipped for success in the 21st-century and beyond.* Today, we live in a world where knowledge acquisition is of little value without the skills to use that knowledge to think critically, communicate powerfully, collaborate productively, and complete projects effectively.
Our vision for high school education starts with a question, "What must our students be able to know and DO before graduating?" The answer to this question helps us recognize that today we must do more than download content into our students. We must teach intellectual skills and instill habits of mind.
This fundamental shift in the way we think about graduation expectations is driving a transformation in our approach to student learning at Columbia Adventist Academy. We have embarked on a journey that we hope will result in graduates who know relevant content and the discrete skills of their academic subjects. They can DO what typical employers and/or colleges demand of their employees and/or students (research, analyze, inquire, and create) using their intellectual, interpersonal, and executive skills to make things happen. Even more importantly, they have the ability to reflect, a habit of self-awareness and revision that sets them on the path for life-long growth.
For Columbia Adventist Academy this vision means we are in the process of transforming the way we educate. The most important thing we can instill in our students, after a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ, is the ability to think critically, communicate powerfully, collaborate productively, and complete projects effectively in the context of service to God and humanity. To accomplish this we are transitioning to a multi-disciplinary problem-based learning (PBL) educational model** with authentic assessment to measure both knowledge acquisition and skill mastery. We believe the integration of science, technology, religion, engineering, art, math and service (STREAMS) through PBL along with a wholistic approach of physical, social and emotional learning will result in students who are prepared to graduate from CAA as leaders in whatever field of service God calls them to enter as they live for Him and serve humanity.
*This vision and the language used to express it here is an outgrowth and adaptation of the vision we caught as an organization while reading, studying and digesting Bob Lenz's vision for high school education articulated in his book "Transforming Schools."
**To learn more about the project based learning model being implemented at CAA visit - The Buck Institute for Education