February 27, 2015 by Chris Sturgis
Months later …and I’m still processing everything I learned on my Magical Mastery Tour of New York City. Most of the schools I visited were profoundly student-centered in the sense of designing around the needs of those students who face the greatest challenges. Increasingly, I’m thinking that we need to draw from the schools that have designed for students with special education needs and language needs, such as Carroll Gardens and Bronx International. If these students are in the center of the design, rather than considered sub-populations, I think we have a much better chance of seeing improvements in equity.
I’ve organized all the links in one place below to make it easier for you to take the tour yourself.
And check out the video in Shifting to Mastery-Based Approaches in New York City Public Schools by Jeremy Kraushar of Digital Ready.
February 5, 2015 by Chris Sturgis
For those of you ready to network with your colleagues, there are a few meetings that include competency education in the strands of sessions and speakers.
New England: Coming up soon is the New England Secondary Schools Consortium High School Redesign in Action conference on March 26-27 in Massachusetts. (Note: there are only about 100 spots left.)
Oregon: The Oregon Annual Proficiency Conference co-sponsored by BEC and COSA is scheduled for April 10, 2015. Jaime Robles, Principal at Lindsay High School, is a keynote speaker.
National: The 2015 iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium will take place on November 8-11 in Orlando, Florida at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. A request for breakout sessions and workshop proposals opened on February 4th if you would like to share your knowledge and lessons learned. Registration for the Symposium will open in March. (more…)
February 3, 2015 by Natalie Abel
From the States
- North Carolina: North Carolina New Schools is making the case for competency-based learning in North Carolina, as Angela Quick, Senior VP, explains in her blog. A convening of thought leaders was held in December to operate as a “think tank” to identify enablers, barriers, and readiness factors regarding North Carolina’s transition toward competency education. Mooresville Graded School District is now offering credit by demonstrated mastery (CDM) to middle and high school students. In 2013, the NC State Board of Education changed policy to enable mastery-based credits. (The Journal)
- Michigan: Mary Esselman, former deputy chancellor at the Education Achievement Authority in Michigan, announced her resignation in January. She championed Michigan’s turnaround district by reshaping teaching and curriculum around student-centered, technology-focused models.
New Reports and Resources (more…)
February 2, 2015 by Scott Marion
This paper is also available in PDF form here.
We are in the midst of two major reform initiatives occupying the attention of school district leaders throughout the country. Teacher evaluation has been the most prominent educational policy issue of the past five years, and evaluating teachers in the so-called “non-tested subjects and grades” has been one of the thorniest challenges in the design of these new educator evaluation approaches. Student learning objectives have emerged as the most common approach for documenting teacher contributions to student learning (Hall, Gagnon, Thompson, Schneider, & Marion, 2014). Competency-based education has taken hold to help ensure that students have mastered critical knowledge and skills before becoming eligible for graduation or moving on to the next learning target rather than simply occupying a seat for a certain amount of time. Unfortunately, many school leaders do not see the strong relationship between these two initiatives and feel like they have to do “double-duty” to meet both sets of policy goals. I describe each of these initiatives below and then illustrate how the close connection between the two can create coherence and efficiencies.
While there are potentially many definitions of competencies and competency-based education, I rely on the following from Patrick and Sturgis (2013):
Competency education is an approach to teaching and learning in which: (more…)
January 27, 2015 by Chris Sturgis
This is the fifth post in the Chugach School District series. Read the first, second, third, and fourth posts here.
How does competency education work in small, rural K-12 schools?
When I first started reading about Chugach School District five years ago, I just didn’t get it. After spending much of my adult life in New England, rural meant a small town an hour away from another small town. When I moved to New Mexico, Landon Mascareñaz (now at Denver Public Schools) insisted I join him on a road trip into the northwestern corner to understand the dynamics of serving Native Americans in rural areas. The expanses of land and sky between each town were staggering. So was the realization that rural and remote schools had to balance being deeply community-based (valuing the cultures, communities, and assets surrounding them) with the need to expand students’ horizons.
My personal horizons expanded tremendously about what remote means on my trip to Chugach School District. I first realized that I was on the edge of my comfort zone as I accompanied Debbie Treece, Special Education Director, on a trip to the Whittier Community School (WCS). (more…)
January 16, 2015 by Chris Sturgis
I had a chance to see ACHIEVE’s Communication Tool Kit during a webinar on communication strategies for state policy leaders. The materials are truly terrific…absolutely every person should read them and start using the language and talking points. They are so good and so important to read that I’m publishing the Core Messages right here.
The one word I would caution is that the ideas haven’t been message tested – for you funders out there, it would be a great investment to do some focus groups with different constituencies and stakeholders, especially communities that have historically received less-than-adequate educational services.
FYI, there are lots of resources – including planning tools and an infographic – that will be coming soon.
Competency-Based Pathways: Definition, Key Messages, and Talking Points (more…)
December 15, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
Gatherings and Site Visits
- Registration is open for the High School Redesign in Action is the New England Secondary School Consortium’s sixth annual conference for educators to share success stories, exchange best practices, and continue to build momentum for innovations that will prepare all students for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century. This is a great place to learn about competency education in action. Thursday + Friday, March 26-27, 2015 in Norwood, MA.
- ACHIEVE held their annual meeting for state leaders has competency education last week. On the agenda:
- From Seat-time to Mastery: Competency-based Pathways to Colleges and Careers discusses approaches to moving away from measuring student knowledge as a function of time toward one that uses content mastery as the primary criterion. The unique role the postsecondary sector can play to signal support is also stressed. Speakers include: Ellen Hume-Howard, Curriculum Director, Sanborn Regional School District, New Hampshire; Dan Mielke, Executive Director, Eastern Promise, Eastern Oregon University; Rachelle Tome, Chief Academic Officer, Maine Department of Education and Cory Curl, Senior Fellow, Assessment and Accountability, Achieve.
- Communicating the Potential of Competency-based Learning highlights effective advocacy and communications practices to promote competency-based education across interest groups.Speakers include: Theresa Bennett, Education Associate, ELA, Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development, Delaware Department of Education; Pete Janhunen, The Fratelli Group; and Lindsay Jones, Director, Public Policy and Advocacy, National Center for Learning Disabilities.
New Reports and Resources
November 13, 2014 by Bob Crumley
This post originally published on EdSurge on November 10, 2014.
Chugach, Alaska isn’t just known for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and 1964’s tragic 9.2 magnitude earthquake anymore. The Chugach School District has become recognized as an innovator in grassroots school reform, especially when it comes to performance-based learning.
And for good reason. Within the first five years of starting to rebuild its education system, Chugach leapt from the bottom quartile to an average 72nd percentile on Alaska’s required state assessments. The Chugach School District performance-based education system was honored by President Bush as the first education organization to earn the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and again by Alaska’s own quality award program by being the first recipient of the APEX award.
In small remote village schools spread out across 22,000 square miles of the roadless pristine wilderness of Prince William Sound, Alaska, communities and educators collectively tossed out the traditional education system to build an entirely new system from scratch. We knew that traditional education was built for another era. Community input, common sense and research led to a school system where there was no second grade, or third grade, or any grade. Students no longer received report cards with letter grades of A through F. No longer was the system built for adults to manage students. It was now built to meet the individual needs of each student. (more…)
November 3, 2014 by Rebecca Wolfe
Originally posted on October 20, 2014 at Jobs for the Future.
Students at the Center, a Jobs for the Future initiative that synthesizes and adapts for practice current research on key components of student-centered approaches to learning that lead to deeper learning outcomes, has just launched a new research series on competency education. Competency education is both a core tenet in our student-centered framework and an area of increasing interest to practitioners and policymakers.
Over the coming months, we will continue to release this series of research syntheses and updates from the field that help build the foundational data, theory, and information needed to support effective implementation and policy for competency education. (Sign up to be sure to receive new research.) We encourage you to read and share this publication with others in the field. Here are five key takeaways from the recent report:
1. Competency education is one important part of a broader vision of education reform that places students at the center of their education experience.
Students at the Center has collected and published evidence and arguments concluding that students are more engaged, more motivated, and achieve better learning outcomes under four key conditions:
- Education is personalized to their needs
- They can advance upon mastery of clear learning targets
- They have a range of learning opportunities in and out of school
- They have voice, choice, and agency in their learning experiences.
The potential impacts of competency education are greatly enhanced when combined with the other three reform strategies. (more…)