Category: Uncategorized

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

June 7, 2016 by

What's NewTeacher and Ed Leader Insights

Thought Leadership

Assessments for Learning

Movement in the States

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Not Your Grandpa’s Voc Ed: Rigorous Career and Technical Education in Henry County, Georgia

May 7, 2016 by

RoboticsThis post originally appeared on the New England Secondary School Consortium on behalf of Great Schools Partnership. It also appeared on Students at the Center

When many of us think of “career and technical education,” we likely recall dusty wood shops, half-finished projects, and cantankerous teachers with untamed hair and maybe a missing finger or three. Or we might envision a class of students and teachers corralled in a section of rooms, walled off from the rest of the school like the two Berlins of old. Or perhaps we think about students who choose career and technical courses because the perception is that they’re “easy electives.”

But in Henry County, Georgia, career and technical education isn’t easy at all: it’s all about challenging students academically.

At the New England Secondary School Consortium’s 2016 High School Redesign in Action conference, Sharon Bonner and John Steiner of the Henry County’s Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) program guided participants through their district’s experiences in a session entitled, “Creating Competencies for Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education.”

The Henry County Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education program will provide a rigorous, relevant, and technologically advanced curriculum that will be available to all Henry County students, teaching them how to be lifelong learners while preparing them for the transition to secondary, postsecondary, and employment endeavors. Remarkably, Henry County’s CTAE program currently serves 82% of the students in the school district, and just over 11,000 high school students are taking at least one CTAE pathway course this academic year.

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How Might We Ensure Quality and Value Across a Larger Landscape of Learning?

May 6, 2016 by

Design Thinking

For those of you interested in out-of-the-box innovations using elements of competency education, you’ll be interested in this update on Donnell-Kay’s ReSchool Colorado initiative. See Thinking Way, Way, Way Outside the Box at the Donnell-Kay Foundation and Insights from ReSchool Colorado: Ensuring Quality and Equity

We know that Colorado kids and young adults are already learning in many places and in many ways beyond the formal school environment. We also know that often these experiences are not coordinated or valued in the same way as school-based programs. This summer we want to get smarter about how we can determine quality and value to the learner across a larger landscape of learning and how we might be able to capture a cohesive learning journey that ensures every learner is prepared to engage in a dynamic future.

This first stage of working with a larger landscape of learning opportunity for 15-21-year olds is currently in the research phase. Our work has typically followed a design process that begins with investigating assets and gaps that exist currently with partners that find the opportunity to learn together as mutually beneficial.

The main goals of this phase include:

  • Goal One: Gain greater insight towards the needs and interest of learners from ages 15-21 and how those needs are currently being met
  • Goal Two: Begin to understand how learning providers define and ensure success
  • Goal Three: To identify the attributes of a quality learning provider based on alignment towards a set of outcomes that include learning goals, satisfaction of the learner and the culture of the learning environment
  • Goal Four: Advance our understanding of the role the ReSchool Framework for the Future of Learning plays in supporting a shared commitment to student learning and preparation for success

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The Personalized Learning Mindset

April 28, 2016 by

RocksThis post originally appeared at Education Elements on April 5, 2016. 

I recently attended Carolina Blends, an event which brings together educators from the region to tour schools and learn from each other. After touring three schools with about 50 educators, I came to believe that before you go on a school tour, you need the “PL Mindset.”

On the tours, I noticed a difference in the educators who already had a the PL Mindset. They understood that we were seeing one short snapshot of a classroom with the good, the bad and the ugly. They asked questions which helped them understand what happens in the classroom week after week. They asked how decisions about what happens in the classroom are made. They asked about how the school was different than before, and what changes they made year-over-year.

The educators without the PL Mindset often asked about which digital content was being used and if the content worked. They often criticized what was happening in the classrooms and said they were doing it better at their own schools. They said they couldn’t do this work because of bell schedules, resources, lack of infrastructure, etc. (more…)

Why This Experienced Teacher Believes in Mastery Education

February 20, 2016 by
Kelly Brady

Kelly Brady

This post originally appeared at the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s The EdFly Blog on January 19, 2016. Kelly Brady is the Director of Mastery Education for the Idaho State Department of Education. 

In my thirty years as an educator, I had the privilege of working with a wide range of learners in many different settings. I worked in public and private schools, with highly-gifted students and special education students, and in wealthy areas and areas of high-poverty. Yet in all those classrooms, one thing held universally true: kids learn best when their individual learning needs are met.

Good teachers know how to personalize instruction based on what they’ve learned about each student. The best way to motivate students is to get to know them personally by building relationships that reveal their unique learning needs. But it’s impossible to do that all the time, for every kid, in every lesson. Until now.

Thanks to advances in technology and new student-centered models of teaching and learning, we now have the tools to meet the needs of every learner! My role as Director of Mastery Education in Idaho is to get these tools into the hands of teachers and school/district leaders so they can customize learning for every student.

Why am I excited about Mastery Education?

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Calling All CompetencyWorks Readers

November 17, 2015 by

SixWe need your help! Although many of you were at the iNACOL Symposium, not everyone could make it. So please take ten minutes to answer six questions. By gathering the voices from all over the nation, we can build on our strengths, make sure we are doing the best job we can in curating resources, draw on knowledge in our networks, and make sure that we are focusing on the things you think are important.

  • What is your elevator speech?
  • What is your biggest AHA! (i.e., insight) about competency education and its implementation?
  • Who have you talked to or listened to who has influenced your thinking? (The question is based on the iNACOL Symposium, but don’t worry about that. We want to find out who is making a difference.)
  • What issue or topic do you think needs us to direct our collective knowledge and creativity as a field to figure it out so that we can unleash the full potential of competency-based education?
  • What resource, paper, video, podcast, or blog have you found particularly helpful that you would recommend for those just starting out on the path to competency-based education?
  • Educators, are you using an information system to support tracking student progress and standards-based grading? If so, what product and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the product?

Just go to Getting Smart’s Voices Hub and you’ll see a link for CompetencyWorks. Or you can go directly to the questions by clicking here.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

October 8, 2015 by

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.22.41 AMOhio department of education released its application to participate in the state’s new Competency-based education pilot program. It also created self-assessment tools for school districts to determine their readiness to participate in the program.

More Movement in the States

News

  • Arne Duncan supports Purdue University’s competency-based education program, and he is quoted as supporting competency education and shifting away from time-based systems.
  • An interview with Jennifer Deenik, Living Systems Science Teacher at Souhegan High School, by Jennifer Poon, Innovation Lab Network Director at CCSSO, takes a peek inside New Hampshire’s performance assessment pilot program.
  • Diploma Plus operates small alternative programs for students who have repeatedly failed a grade or are on the verge of dropping out. This interview with William Diehl, chair of the Diploma Plus board, discusses the key components of the schools’ efforts to prepare students who are coming from behind.
  • The Woodrow Wilson Foundation, in partnership with MIT, are creating the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning Sciences, which provides graduate programs in teacher education and school leadership. The Academy will be competency-based with a blended curriculum, and the first class will enroll in 2017.
  • In Giving Students Charge of How They Learn, John McCarthy discusses student-developed products based on learning targets, student-developed rubrics, student-developed conferences, and setting students free to learn with you.

Videos and Films

  • Beyond Measure is a film that challenges the assumptions of our current education system, and paints a positive picture of what’s possible in American education when communities decide they are ready for change. Watch the trailer here.
  • The Illuminating Standards Video Series explore the relationship between meeting demanding state standards and designing powerful learning experiences for all students. The video series are listed by grade level.

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It’s Time to Vote…So Someone Can Win $100,000 from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation

September 14, 2015 by

voteStudents at the Center is hosting the Lawrence W. O’Toole Award, “given out each year to an individual, organization, school or district exhibiting great leadership through innovation or courage in moving student-centered approaches to learning forward in New England. The winner will receive a $100,000 grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.”

It’s a great group of people, districts, and organizations doing great work. Two of the nominees are recognized for their work in competency education. Readers of CompetencyWorks will be delighted to see Sanborn Regional School District on the list of nominees for its leadership in competency-based education. (You can get a chance to talk with their leadership team directly at the pre-conference workshop Implementing Competency Education: Insights from Local Leaders at the iNACOL Symposium.) Molly Heath is a teacher at Burlington High School, and is recognized for her development of proficiency-based approaches within the classroom.

Two of the nominees specialize in engagement of youth – Pious Ali from Portland Empowered (who also specializes in community engagement) and Youth on Board. We know that this expertise is instrumental in re-shaping school districts to embrace the values of competency-based systems, including developing student agency. Shawn Rubin from the Highlander Institute is recognized for his expertise in blended learning. Finally, the Hartford Journalism & Media Academy has been nominated for its community partnerships and emphasis on deeper learning.

Time to cast your vote!

Congratulations to Pahara Institute’s 2015 NextGen Leaders

July 28, 2015 by

We know that several sectors of the education innovation field share the problem of lack of diversity. The consequences of this are huge, as we risk not drawing upon the best knowledge and robust networks. We undermine our creativity as a field and fail to credential ourselves as trustworthy to people and communities of color. Most of all, the very fact that our leadership is too, too white suggests to me that we are in fact either operating with explicit bias or allowing ourselves to have implicit bias to shape our field. If we have this problem in our organizations, it is very likely that it is also shaping our practice, technical assistance, and advocacy.

The Pahara Institute is trying to correct this problem by “identifying, strengthening, and sustaining diverse, high-potential leaders who are reimagining public education.” I was delighted to identify at least four members of the Pahara Institute 2015 NextGen Network who are working in organizations that are advancing competency education or blended learning.

Keara Duggan

Keara Duggan

Keara Duggan is a Senior Consultant on the Education Elements Design & Implementation Team. In this role, she partners with school districts to design, launch, and support personalized learning models to accelerate student achievement. She is deeply passionate about ensuring under-served and rural students have access to an excellent education.

Keara began her career as a Teach For America corps member, serving as a third grade teacher on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. Since then, she has managed development, operations, programming, communications, curriculum design, and professional development projects for education organizations in the non-profit and for-profit sector, including Education Pioneers, Teach For America, InsideTrack, and Brooklyn Historical Society. She has also been privileged to be an inaugural member of the Rural School Leadership Academy. Keara received an M.A. in Public History from New York University and a B.A. in History and International/Intercultural Studies from Claremont McKenna College.

Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno is a passionate educational leader committed to supporting school and district leaders who are creating high-quality, non-traditional schools. He is currently National Director of School Network Support & Innovation for Big Picture Learning, a nonprofit organization that has developed over 150 such schools in the United States and internationally since 1995.As Big Picture’s National Director, Carlos leads and supports a team of regional directors, designs and coordinates Big Picture’s several annual convenings, and coordinates leadership development and support services for principals in Big Picture’s Network. He also leads Big Picture’s work with scores of non-Big Picture schools that wish to incorporate elements of the Big Picture Learning design. (more…)

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