June 14, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
Here is another opportunity to learn more about competency education. The American Youth Policy Forum (a CompetencyWorks partner) and College and Career Readiness Center at the American Institutes for Research are offering a two-part webinar in June and July.
Two-Part Webinar Series on Policy Issues in Competency-Based Education
High performing education systems across the globe have based their work on a competency-based approach as opposed to the time-based system that we have in the United States. Currently, innovative states and districts around the country are beginning to challenge this outdated system and pursue an approach that calls for student demonstration of mastery. While many are currently interested in making such a shift, it is important to recognize that a host of policies, structures, and systems must be aligned. This two-part webinar series, co-hosted by the American Youth Policy Forum and the College and Career Readiness Center at the American Institutes for Research, will address major policy issues states and districts should be considering as they think about implementing competency-based education. (more…)
June 12, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
Maine’s Center for Best Practices is building up a resource center that can help principals and educators understand the nuts and bolts of personalized, proficiency-based education. As I was reading the latest case study based on RSU 20 (highlighted here), I was poking around in the resource section and found a document on the Basics for Assessment for Learning. For those of you who are asking the question “What does competency education look like in the classroom?” this may be helpful – although if you are familiar with the work of Rick Stiggins, this won’t be anything new.
Essentially this describes the core practices of a proficiency-based classroom. You can see all the most important ingredients – clear, transparent targets; preparation for when learning isn’t taking place; strong emphasis on formative assessment; and empowered students.
Getting Started: Assessment for Learning
5 Keys to Quality Assessment
- Clear Purpose-Year 1
- Clear Targets-Year 1
- Sound Assessment Design-Year 2
- Good Communication-Year 2
- Student Involvement-Year 1 (more…)
June 5, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
iNACOL is putting the final touches on the iNACOL’s Symposium competency education strand of workshops and sessions. An incredible group of practitioners (some emphasizing online/blended learning and others not) are going to be leading sessions. In addition to the formal sessions there will be a CompetencyWorks lounge area near the exhibitor hall that you can use for informal discussions and meet-ups. In fact, we’ll be meeting there Sunday evening during the opening reception just so we can introduce ourselves (thanks to Tom Willis Cornerstone Charter Schools who called me and said we needed this to happen.) The iNACOL Symposium is a big, exciting meeting, so knowing each other’s faces early on will make a huge difference.
Although we know things always change, here is how the competency education strand looks now:
Design Choices for Competency Education will be for experienced innovators and newbies alike. We’ll walk through all the different choices districts and schools make, sharing what worked, what you learned, and what you might do differently.
Overview of Competency Education – What is it, what are the models, and who is doing it? – Susan Patrick, iNACOL and Chris Sturgis, MetisNet
The Building Blocks of Competency-Based Learning: Competencies, Assessment, Learning, and Grading – Rose Colby, Education Consultant
Session 1 and 2 (Workshop)
Transparency = Ownership: A Model for Student-Centered Learning – Alison Hramiec, Boston Day and Evening Academy (more…)
May 29, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
The question came up the other day, what are the best 2-3 short readings for someone that hasn’t been exposed to the idea of competency education to read? Susan and I were talking about this and we came up with the following (below).
We’d like to know what you use to engage people in thinking deeply about competency-based, proficiency-based, performance-based, or mastery-based learning. We are keeping a Recommended Reading List up to date…so please forward helpful resources to us.
Getting Your Feet Wet Reading List
1) To Learn About What’s Wrong with the Traditional System.
In The One World School House, Sal Khan provides two easy to read chapters containing historical insight and information about the fundamental flaws in the traditional system. In the chapter “The Prussian Model,” he describes how the structure of today’s schooling developed with its grade levels, calendar, semesters, and daily schedules. In “Swiss Cheese Learning,” he outlines the flaws in the problem, emphasizing that even our A+ students end up advancing with gaps in their knowledge that may create significant challenges later on. (more…)
May 17, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
I am receiving an increasing number of emails from people that have questions about competency-, proficiency-, mastery-, and performance-based education, and I’m sure many of you do as well. Given the increased attention to competency education, we need to make it easier for people to get an answer — a really solid good answer — that offers the spirit of competency education and considers issues of equity so that we are as effective as possible in early implementation.
So we’ve started a FAQ page(s) on the wiki. And when I add a new one I am going to put a blog as well because we need your help —
- How might you revise the answer to be more helpful?
- Do you have examples or resources that you can point us to that can help newbies better understand the nuances of the issues?
- Have you done any training on the issue? Could you share with us how you do the training so that we can build up our capacity as a field to teach others what we are learning? (more…)
May 15, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
I think about design a lot. Indeed, Fast Company is a monthly read. Design is an empowering, creative process. It can also help us rethink the assumptions holding us back.
The way design and the design process is taking hold in education is exciting and sometimes disturbing.
It’s exciting that competency education and time (as in, flexible use of time so students keep working until proficient and extending time to learn anytime) are being included in many of the new sets of design frameworks. For example:
- The Carnegie Corporation’s 10 Principles for Secondary School Design “prioritizes mastery of rigorous standards aligned to college & career readiness:
- Curriculum that enables all students to meet rigorous standards
- Multiple opportunities for students to show mastery through performance-based assessments
- Student advancement based on demonstration of mastery of knowledge and skills.”
- Wave IV of Next Generation Learning Challenges “emphasizes redesigned, scalable, whole-school models that combine the best aspects of place-based and online learning with more personalized, mastery-based approaches to result in substantially improved outcomes for students.”
Have you seen other examples of competency-, proficiency-, mastery- or performance-based approaches being built into school or systemic design? Please let us know in the comments section!
- Race to the Top-District competition emphasized personalized and mastery-based. However, the only winner that had a well-developed idea of what a mastery-based system means is Lindsay Unified. Middletown (NY) will be piloting an elementary school model, and Carson City (NV) is making college level courses available whenever students are ready. Fingers crossed that we’ll see the other grantees dig into what is possible once they start to focus on student learning.
It’s disturbing that we aren’t fully designing around our most underserved students. A mainstream, linear, factory-based assumption is gripping us so tightly (I can’t help but think about the saber-toothed tiger in the tar pits) that we keep designing around the antiquated idea of students as widgets. (more…)
May 13, 2013 by Lillian Pace
This post was originally published by Knowledgeworks on April 30, 2013.
A truly remarkable education transformation is underway in five New England states – CT, ME, NH, RI, and VT – inspired by the idea that every child can graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge to succeed in life. This transformation – called proficiency-based learning (aka: competency, mastery, or standards-based) – flips the education system on its head, providing multiple pathways, extra time, and intensive supports for a truly customized learning experience.
I was fortunate to experience this transformation first hand last week, thanks to an impressive tour led by the Great Schools Partnership. This organization is impacting every level of the system: from the grassroots coaching partnerships they have with schools and districts throughout the region to the high-level systems change conversations they lead as the coordinator for the New England Secondary Schools Consortium (NESSC). My big take-away from the tour is this: These leaders have the right vision for learning and an incredibly talented team of experts to help make that vision a reality. (more…)
May 9, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
Do you have questions about how other states are transforming their education systems to competency-based schools?
Here is your chance to hear directly from two state leaders and ask all of your questions. Join us for a CompetencyWorks webinar on May 17th at 3 pm ET on How State Educational Leaders are Advancing Competency Education based on Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills — A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education. Join Susan Patrick, iNACOL; Jason Glass, Iowa Department of Education; and Don Siviski, Maine Department of Education for what promises to be a great conversation. And if you haven’t joined one of our webinars before, you should expect two great conversations because the chat room is always spinning with exchanges, ideas, and new relationships. You can register here for the webinar.
If you want to get up to speed on state policy issues we have a few resources you might find interesting: (more…)
May 6, 2013 by Lillian Pace
Over the past few years we have seen a groundswell of interest and adoption of competency based models for learning. At least 40 states have one or more school districts implementing one of these models and a growing number of states have begun serious conversations about how to redesign their system to ensure students have the extra time, multiple pathways, and supports they need to master content and skills. But despite this paradigm shift, a major road block lies ahead: federal K-12 policy.
At KnowledgeWorks, we have decided to dive head first into this challenge. Last week, we released our first policy brief on competency education titled: An Emerging Federal Role for Competency Education. Our goal is to help policymakers understand the elements of federal law that make it difficult for states to redesign their systems to support competency education at scale.
Here are the accountability barriers we identified in the paper: (more…)
April 29, 2013 by Gary Chapin
This post was originally published at the Partially Examined Life: A Philosophy Podcast and Blog.
Over the past hundred years Constructivists and Traditionalists have enjoyed an uneasy truce in the world of education practitioners. Constructivism “says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.” [thirteen.org] Traditionalists were more influenced by the “scientific management” of Taylorism, seeing schools on the industry model. Schools are factories with inputs, throughputs and outputs. The compromise between the two: educators would agree that Constructivism was true, but would act as if it were not.
Yes, it made sense as a model to discuss how learners “construct” knowledge” rather than “acquire” it. Of course, any teacher would say, students learn at different rates, in different ways, and according to their circumstance. But it was so impractical – hordes of students operating according to their individual motivations. Who can afford that? And how are you going to track progress? How will you know if you are getting your money’s worth from your schools? (more…)