Author: Chris Sturgis

The Past and the Promise

September 16, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 5.00.09 PMJobs for the Future released today The Past and the Promise: Today’s Competency Education Movement by Cecilia Le, Rebecca Wolfe and Adria Steinberg.  There are two reasons for you to take the time to read this report:

1)    To reflect on how the understanding of competency education is changing; and

2)    To understand the research base that contributes to our understanding of competency education.

Defining Competency Education

The paper proposes that older versions of competency had three elements (mastery, pacing and instruction) and advances the idea that the models we are seeing in today’s enhanced version is a personalized competency education model with an additional six elements (competencies, assessment, flexible time, student agency, technology for instruction and monitoring learning, and cultures based on motivating and engaging students).

I also would add that previous models have been all classroom-based. However, here at CompetencyWorks, we are now operating on the assumption that competency education at a minimum requires whole school approaches. Stand-alone classroom doesn’t work for the following reasonis: 1) It’s impossible for a teacher to provide all the supports a student needs in the classroom and you can’t depend on after school or lunchtime as a reliable way for students to get extra help; 2) Once we know where students are on their learning progression it often makes sense for teachers (often working collaboratively) to group and regroup students so they get the help they need; and, 3) Ssome students that are “not yet proficient” may need additional time in terms of summer school or continuing on their learning progression in the next semester. One teacher in a classroom can’t mobilize that type of resource or coherency without a school wide approach. (more…)

This Week: Webinars on Technology and Time

September 9, 2014 by
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From AEE web

The Alliance for Excellent Education is offering three webinars that might be of interest to districts and schools converting to competency education. The first on how to use technology to support students that are “at-risk” (I’m not particularly fond of labeling kids) is Wednesday (as in tomorrow). The second on how to use time more creatively as a resource is on Thursday. The third is also about time and is scheduled for September 23rd.  The information on the webinars is below including links to register.

Three Factors for Success in Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students

September 10, 2014 
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm EDT

Panelists


Linda Darling-Hammond, EdD; Charles E. Ducommun, Professor of Education, Stanford University Graduate School of Education, Faculty Director, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE); Tom Murray, State and District Digital Learning Director, Alliance for Excellent Education;Molly B. Zielezinski, Doctoral Candidate, Learning Sciences and Technology Design, Stanford University Graduate School of Education (more…)

What’s New in Competency Education (September 5)

September 5, 2014 by

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  • Karla Phillips, the State Policy Director of Competency Based Learning for the Foundation for Excellence in Education looks at Colorado’s graduation policy in Rethinking School. (more…)

What’s New in Competency Education in K12 and Higher Education

August 26, 2014 by

K12 ResourcesScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 5.46.08 PM and Events

In the News

  • The Des Moines Register’s article Five Trends to Look for This School Year includes student-led conferences and student setting the pace. Shawn Cornally from Iowa Big is quoted, “”Some students move much faster, and some students move much slower, but they learn it a lot better.”

Reflections on Ferguson: Why We Need to Increase Racial Diversity in the Field of Competency Education

August 22, 2014 by
Chris Sturgis

Chris Sturgis

The courageous people of Ferguson have been standing up for their young men as well as forcing all of us to face the crisis that threatens African American boys’ survival, ability to graduate high school, get a job, and be actively engaged as fathers to their children.  However, there is no reason that they have to be standing alone. It’s up to all of us to eliminate the patterns of structural racism and implicit bias that reinforce inequity and threaten the lives of African-American young men.

All of us in the field of competency education want all children to succeed.  Our intentions are good. However, how can we really be sure that we ourselves do not carry some bias deep in our minds when the leaders in our field are almost all white? If we are committed to equity in our schools, how can we build the capacity in our organizations to be able to systematically address structural racism and bias?

I think that we have evidence that we do have a bias problem in our field. The leadership in the field and our organizations for the most part are very white.  Our success in advancing competency education is threatened if we fail to correct this situation by increasing the racial diversity of our leadership. First, many people see lack of diversity as a sign of organizational weakness. If you can’t figure out how to have diversity on your board and staff, how can you effectively train others or develop policies that don’t reinforce racial equity? (more…)

Turning Mistakes Into Learning: The Power of High Reliability Schools

August 20, 2014 by

Handbook for High Reliability Schools cover“In industries where mistakes and errors lead to significant and far-reaching consequences – such as power plants, air traffic control towers, and electrical power grids – organizations must adjust their operations to proactively prevent failure. . . .  [W]hat distinguishes high reliability organizations is not the absence of errors but the ability to contain their effects so they do not escalate into significant failures.”

I’m just diving into A Handbook for High Reliability Schools . . . The Next Step in School Reform by Marzano, Warrick and Simms. It’s a brilliant idea to think about what it would take for schools to become a high reliability organization. Certainly a student failing to receive an adequate education, failing to be prepared to pursue post-secondary education and training, has far-reaching consequences. It’s a pathway to poverty and fragile families.

What makes education a bit different from business is that mistakes and failures are part of the learning process. So we have to be able to distinguish from the customer making mistakes as part of the learning process, yet have the educators “contain the effect” so that the outcome is success.

The authors describe how schools can become so powerful and so timely in responding to children that the natural errors in learning will produce learning gains. Essentially, schools can become high reliability, taking “proactive steps to prevent failure and ensure success.” I already had a vision of how powerful schools can become, and reading this book took it to a whole new level.

The authors propose five levels of operation for a high reliability school: (more…)

Get Your Calendars Out

August 13, 2014 by

Two major events are coming up that are opportunities to network among innovators in education.Vote SXSW Ed

1)    SXSWedu, March 9-12 , 2015: Last year Susan Patrick of iNACOL did a standing-room-only briefing on competency education. There are four events proposed on competency education for the 2015 meeting.  Two are on higher education and two on K-12. Jump onto the Panel Picker to vote for your favorites:

K-12

Higher Education

 

2) iNACOL’s Blended and Online Learning Symposium, November 4-7, 2014:  This year’s speakers include Sal Khan and Michael Horn.  There is a full competency education strand, with Rose Colby leading The Competency Education Toolkit for Curriculum, Assessment, Instruction, and Grading; and Brian Stack, principal at Sanborn Regional High School, on How to Support a K12 Competency-Based Grading & Reporting System. Jennifer Davis from CCSSO and Adam Rubin from 2 Revolutions will be there to help you learn how to use the Roadmap for Competency-based Systems; Springpoint will have a team to reflect on  Designing New Competency-Based High Schools; and Kim Carter and Elizabeth Cardine from Making Community Connections Charter School will be there to describe how they are Igniting Learning, drawing on cognitive sciences, motivational theory, and educational research.

Such Wonderful New Resources

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There are so many great resources coming out this summer!I haven’t even had time to waScreen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.54.23 AMtch and read everything….but wanted to make sure you all know about them.

Statewide Transformation: First, a big shout out to New Hampshire for sharing their learning. They’ve created a web page New Hampshire’s Story of Transformation complete with videos so you can hear from their leadership and innovators directly. It’s a great resource that explores how they think about student engagement, how they are providing support to educators, and the history of their process towards competency-based education. You can also hear from Paul Leather as he provides a synopsis of the state’s approach.

State and District Updates:

Rights-Sizing Higher Education

August 11, 2014 by
Jobs and freedom march on Washington

From Wikipedia

Disruption.

The word is tossed around these days, and I always have to think about why disruption is good for students, especially those that are underserved, rather than the companies that are grabbing a piece of the market through a new product or service.

In summarizing the new paper by Michelle R. Weise and Clayton Christensen, Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution, Michael Horn writes in his blog Move over MOOCs, it’s online, competency time:

As they argue, online, competency-based schools represent the right learning model—focused on actual mastery of knowledge, skills, and dispositions—with the right technology of online learning, targeted at the right customers—non-consumers who are over-served by the value proposition that traditional colleges and universities offer and searching for a new value proposition from college aligned around workforce needs—paired with the right business model that is low cost, low-priced, and sustainable. (more…)

What’s New

August 7, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 8.26.57 AMAre you trying to get on top of the literature on competency education? iNACOL has put together a summer reading list. In addition, here are highlights about competency education and related topics that have been in the news recently:

K-12 Competency Education

Competency Education in Higher Education

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