Stop the Nitpicking and Other Things We Are Doing that Are Undermining Our Efforts to Advance Competency-Based EducationOctober 13, 2015 by Chris Sturgis
“We don’t share the details of our work anymore.”
I was more than a bit shocked and stopped taking notes. I had heard from a national organization that districts weren’t sharing very much information anymore. I had assumed that the leading districts were working so hard to get their systems right or that examples of their competencies, rubrics, and policies had been pulled off their websites because they were undergoing a revision process.
This very honest superintendent told me they didn’t share their artifacts and the details of their system anymore because so many visitors to his district nitpicked. They’d look at their standards and question why something was set as a kindergarten goal rather than second grade. Or they’d question whether something was really written to be measurable. Or they’d say these are written at lower levels of rigor – why aren’t you assessing for higher order skills?
He explained that their teachers work hard and are in a nonstop learning trajectory. They have been absorbing and transforming to personalized learning and classrooms, building growth mindsets for themselves and their students while shaking off the practices of the fixed mindset, learning about student agency, creating more opportunity for voice and choice in the school and the classroom, becoming comfortable with the Common Core State Standards, figuring out new ways to grade using standards, learning how to build relationships with students that have the strength to address behavioral issues (since points aren’t used as much), strengthening formative assessment and learning to provide more productive feedback, strengthening their instructional strategies, exploring how to use educational technology (including how to use data from adaptive software)…the list goes on. They aren’t prepared for the nitpicking by visitors who have rarely had experience themselves in trying to convert a district to a personalized, competency-based approach. They find it demoralizing and counter-productive. So they’ve just quit sharing.
His honesty helped me to understand the problem. And it sparked me to write about the other things that state policy leaders, district leaders, and educators have told me can be problems created by national organizations. (more…)