May 18, 2012 by Barbara Weed
Teachers need to make sure that they are measuring the right elements of student work. Teacher training places a lot of emphasis on curriculum, but not a lot on assessment. The result is that we teachers become comfortable, invested even, in the materials that we design for instruction. We share lesson plans and ideas, but there is little discussion about what we are measuring.
Those of us who routinely create rubrics for our students’ lessons are moving in the right direction, but we need to make sure that we are actually measuring competencies. Too often, our rubrics are nothing more than quantitative lists that don’t really articulate the complex thinking skills that students are being asked to learn. (more…)
May 17, 2012 by Chris Sturgis
Greetings everyone! We just wanted to let you know about our first working paper — the working title is the Art and Science of Designing Competencies. Our goal is to quickly capture knowledge through a short briefing paper, wiki resources, blog posts and a webinar. We do not want to duplicate efforts so if you now about resources that already tackle this issue, please let us know immediately! If you have resources that you think can be useful, please send them our way so that others can draw on them as well.
We have a great group of people willing to share their knowledge — Kim Carter, QED Foundation; Rose Colby from New Hampshire; Gloria Pineda, Diploma Plus; Steve Kossakoski, Virtual Learning Academy Charter School; Kari Webb from Iowa. Thank you to all of them and others who will be reviewing our work to make sure it will be helpful to schools and districts tackling competency education for the first time. (more…)
by Tony Monfiletto
I work with a team of people that submitted a letter of intent to the New Mexico State Department of Education to create a health careers high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It will be the second in a series of schools dedicated to serving young people who have not been well served by traditional high schools—and there are a lot of those kids in my home town. Nearly 40 percent of all high school students drop out and if you are a young person of color and poor it’s more like 50 percent. This mass of more than 25,000 young people is served in incredibly complicated schools that are incapable of the complexity and sophistication to be successful. About a year and a half ago I helped create ACE Leadership High School, an Architecture Construction and Engineering high school in my home town to get at this sticky problem. We are an outward facing institution that is ambitious about its own development and we incorporate lots of ideas from different disciplines. (more…)
May 14, 2012 by Ephraim Weisstein
What have you learned about how to work with districts in introducing competency-based schools–and what district leaders can do?
I have been working since 1985 on competency-based education (CBE) models to better serve over-aged and under-credited students, first as the Education Director of Jobs for Youth High and later as the founder of Diploma Plus and more recently Schools for the Future.
The following lessons learned for how to establish strong working relationships with districts are generalized for CBE. (Click here for a checklist) However, anyone working with marginalized students, especially those that are over-age and undercredited, will need to negotiate upfront the expectations of the population you want to serve and how students will gain admission to the school (first come; lottery, application; placement). (more…)
May 13, 2012 by Rose Colby
Read Part 1 or take a look at New Hampshire’s ELA and Math Competencies
Following up on the first post on this topic, I go deeper in looking at the relationship between standards and competencies. I facilitated work for the NH DoE whereby groups of Math and ELA teachers wrote competencies to the Common Core, so I will use it as an example:
Competency: Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze structure in expressions. (note that the ‘verb’ is at Level 3 in the DOK.)
The performance indicators that would be used as formative or summative tasks in the demonstration of mastery of this competency are the CC standards. So, as students move through these ‘I can” performance indicators, it should build understanding for the bigger concept of structure in expression. (more…)
May 11, 2012 by Mandi Bozarth
Are we all talking about the same thing when we say competency-based education? This question first occurred to me this past December when I had the opportunity, as West Wind Education Policy’s program associate, to work with REL Midwest and the Iowa Department of Education to organize the Research to Action Forum on Competency-based Education in Des Moines. The conference included national experts, teachers, administrators, students, higher education representatives, policy-makers, and Iowa Workforce Development. You can watch videos of the event and learn more about what is happening in Iowa as districts explore CBE at the online professional collaboration site we created. (more…)
May 10, 2012 by Chris Sturgis
Read the first post on Spaulding High School.
Organizational change is always a case of juggling frogs. As I continue to reflect on my visit to Spaulding High School in April, I’m increasingly humbled by the enormous change they are involved in and the amount of respect and thoughtfulness that the administration, teachers, and students offered one another. Here are a few more insights into the competency education practices being introduced at Spaulding High School.
Competencies and Staff Cohesion: A number of different issues emerged as we talked about the scheduling of courses and their design. Spaulding is using Understanding by Design to help them design courses. (more…)
by Dan Domenech
It seems sacrilegious, really, but I am advocating that we do away with the K-12 grade level structure in education. Perhaps because it has been how we have organized our schools since we evolved from the one room schoolhouse back in the nineteenth century, the grade level structure is taken for granted. You notice that reform agendas do not include doing away with grade levels. We have vouchers, charters, extended day, extended school year, evaluating teachers and principals if we are not firing them, privatizing schools or closing them and reopening them under new management, but no talk of doing away with grade levels. If anything, there is renewed interest in having students repeat grades as a backlash against social promotion.
We talk about thinking out of the box but no one talks about thinking out of grade levels. (more…)
May 9, 2012 by Chris Sturgis
Read more about Spaulding High School.
Traveling to Amherst, Massachusetts, for the Proficiency-Based Pathways meeting and a visit to Spaulding High School in Rochester, New Hampshire, was one of those profound reminders of the enormously beautiful variation in our country in terms of culture, race, and ethnicity—and, of course, geography—as the greening woods, running rivers, and sparkling forsythia nearly blinded my New Mexico eyes.
As you probably know, New Hampshire has transformed credits from seat-time to competency in all of its high schools. Spaulding’s principal, Mr. Rob Seaward, understands the spirit and value of competency education and is working with teachers to get it into every classroom. They are in the first year of the change and are still working out the kinks, so it’s way too early to look for results. However, here are just a few of the highlights of the site visit. (more…)
by Rose Colby
Read Part 2.
Here are links to NH math competencies and ELA competencies
The answer simply is ‘no’. Standards represent the ‘what’ of school—what we need to know, and what we need to be able to do. These standards may be identified as essential or important and may be mapped using local, state, or national frameworks.
When New Hampshire mandated that a high school student could only gain credit for a course when mastery of the course competency was demonstrated, teachers had to write course competencies. It forced the question: What is a competency? (more…)