CompetencyWorks is an online resource dedicated to providing information and knowledge about competency education in the K-12 education system. Drawing on lessons learned by innovators and early adopters, CompetencyWorks shares original research, knowledge and a variety of perspectives through an informative blog with practitioner knowledge, policy advancements, papers on emerging issues and a wiki with resources curated from across the field. CompetencyWorks also offers a blog on competency education in higher education so that the sectors can learn from each other and begin to align systems across K-12, higher education and the workplace.

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What I Am Learning from Anthony Kim

August 14, 2015 by
Instructional Models

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Sometimes I’m a little slow.

I loved the ideas that Anthony Kim, CEO of Education Elements, put together in his post Interested in Innovative School Models? What to Consider to Make Sure They Are Successful – merging together 1) depth of learning, 2) acceleration of learning, and stages of student independence or student agency.

But it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to hear Kim present at the New Hampshire Educators Summit last week (click here for video) that I actually started to really comprehend what this all means. And honestly, my guess is that these ideas are so profound that I’m just starting a journey of understanding what this means for competency-based schools. (I might call these types of inquiries a “learney” – a journey of learning.)

One of my huge pet peeves is that a lot of writing about blended learning only talks about the tech part and fails to provide an overall picture. Rarely does it talk about what is needed for blended learning  to address the tremendous change that is happening with the introduction of the Common Core – moving from a focus on recall and comprehension, the first two levels in most knowledge taxonomies, toward the higher (and deeper) levels of analysis and application. Much of the knowledge base on blended learning focuses on models, products, and the necessary tech infrastructure….but not about what needs to be happening the rest of the time in the classroom to provide deeper learning.

Kim did not fall into this trap. Instead, he illuminated how blended learning can help us build capacity for deeper learning. By using the three-part axis of depth of knowledge (such as Bloom’s or Webb’s), stages of independence (students move dependent on direction from the teacher and toward self-directed learning), and acceleration (students start at different points and progress at different rates, meaning a student who is behind grade level may actually be learning at a much faster rate of learning), he provides a robust picture of what schools need to be able to do and how they can best do it using technology. (more…)

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Support for Teachers in a Competency Education School

August 13, 2015 by

LockersAs a high school principal who has worked for the past six years through a transition from traditional to competency education, I am often asked how our school district has supported teachers both in the past through the transition process and also currently as we sustain our competency education model. Our teacher support system has many layers, each designed to support teachers at different points along our journey.

Professional Learning Communities

Perhaps the single biggest investment our school district made prior to implementing competency education was to establish the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model in each of our schools. I keep this quote from PLC architect Rick DuFour on my desk to remind me what role PLCs play in our school’s teacher support system: “A team is a group of people working interdependently to achieve a common goal for which members are mutually accountable.” PLC teams, when implemented correctly, focus their work around four essential questions:

What is it we want students to learn?

How will we know when they have learned it?

What will we do if they haven’t learned it?

What will we do if they already know it? (more…)

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Integrating Career Technical Education with Competency-Based Education

August 8, 2015 by

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on August 5, 2015.

Library“One system that has often been overlooked in conversations about competency based pathways has been that of career technical education (CTE). CTE has promoted personalized learning and real-world application – both fundamental tenets of a competency-based approach – yet it has rarely been intentionally integrated into states’ Competency-Based Pathway (CBP) approaches.”

Alissa Peltzman, Achieve’s VP of State Policy & Implementation Support, is right. There’s much to learn from CTE that can inform and act as an entry point to competency-based systems in both K-12 and HigherEd systems.

With this acknowledgement, Achieve recently partnered with the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) to elevate the value of coordination between CBE and CTE leaders.

In May 2015, Achieve and NASDCTEc brought together national partner organizations alongside several states within Achieve’s Competency-Based Pathways (CBP) State Partnership to better understand the implications of systems alignment, identify key considerations, and elevate states and districts already beginning this integration. To share insights from this work, the groups co-authored and released Building a Strong Relationship between Competency-Based Pathways and Career Technical Education–a report that identifies opportunities for collaboration, integration, and strengthened relationships between CBP and CTE leaders. It explores the leverage points and challenges to integrating CTE into a CBP system, and where possible, offers state and district examples. (more…)

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What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

August 7, 2015 by

News
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What Is Competency Education?

  • A Q&A with Rebecca Wolfe, Director of Students at the Center project and personalized learning advocate, discusses how personalized learning can help historically underserved students.
  • Formative assessment is an ideal starting point on the path to personalization; tracking student mastery is an ideal next step. Read more here.

Implementing Competency Education

(more…)

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How Competent Are We at Competency Education?

August 6, 2015 by

Below is the presentation I prepared for the New Hampshire Education Summit on the topic How Competent Are We at Competency Education? (here is link to video)

What a pleasure it is to be here in New Hampshire – the well-spring of competency education. When Susan Patrick, my partner in co-founding CompetencyWorks, and I did the scan of competency education in 2010, we found that there were pockets of competency education across the country. However, there was only one state – and that state was New Hampshire – that had the foresight, courage, and leadership to set a new course for their schools and for their children. Now look at you, setting the course for federal policy by having the courage to imagine a new way for the state and districts to co-design a system of quality assurance – what we used to call state accountability.

State Policy Snapshot

Competency education is spreading across the country. As soon as CompetencyWorks updates this map, we hear of another state taking a step forward. For example, in June, Idaho and Ohio both decided to invest in pilots. However, the thing that convinces me we are going in the right direction is that districts, without the help of any enabling state policy, are converting to competency education – Lindsay in California, Warren and Springdale in Arkansas, Charleston in South Carolina, Henry and Fulton in Georgia, Freeport in Illinois, and Lake County in Florida. (more…)

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It’s Simply Buzzing in New Hampshire

August 5, 2015 by

innovation2:15 pm ET

I’m sitting amidst 500 very energetic educators from all around New Hampshire (it’s 2 percent of the teacher workforce). To get access to the 2015 New Hampshire’s Educator Summit, districts had to be willing to send a team of people that had identified problems of practice to drive their learning….and it is just electric in the room as we wait for Virginia Barry, Commissioner of Education to launch the meeting with the introduction of the New Hampshire 2.0: A Blueprint to Scale Competency-Based Education Across a P-20 System.

The event is around six strands: Competency-Based Education, Community Engagement, Co-Teaching, Data Literacy, Early Childhood Education, and STEM. Several folks who are part of the CompetencyWorks network are leading sessions, including Anthony Kim, CEO of Education Elements; Rose Colby, consulting superstar; Jonathon Vander Els, Principal of Memorial Elementary School, Sanborn Regional School District; Scott Marion, the Center of Assessment; and Joe DiMartino, Executive Director, Center for Secondary School Redesign. Other presenters include Lindsey Lapointe, Epping Middle School and Monique Temple, Maple Street Magnet School (emphasizing inquiry-based and project-based learning). I wish I could go to every session!

3 pm ET

Here are a few highlights so far:

Building a Big Voice: Bill Duncan, member of the NH School Board, spoke to the need to tell families, community members, and political leaders from the most local to statewide positions about their experiences in the classroom in an effort to build out a big voice to support schools and teachers. We need to get to the people who know and can influence those who have the decision-making power to stay the course.

From Improving the System We Have to Creating the One We Need: Virginia Barry kicked off her discussion with a video giving voice to teachers and students who are using extended learning, project-based learning, and place-based learning. There was an interesting story about a class in Surry Village Charter School using their own community to learn about the civil rights movement, finding a local leader, Jonathon Daniels, who was murdered while trying to register African-American voters in Alabama. (more…)

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Introducing a New Definition of Competency Education

August 4, 2015 by

RELAs you probably know, five years ago CompetencyWorks developed a five-part working definition with the help of 100 innovators to help provide some stability to the field. (Our introductory materials explore competency education in more depth.) The definition was designed to describe what a new competency-based structure should be able to do with enough openness that it could be used to guide discussion about policy, systemic issues, school designs, or classroom practice.

As organizations continue to try to improve the definition of competency education as well as clarify the relationship of competency education to personalized learning and blended learning, it gives all of us a chance to deepen our understanding and strengthen our work together.

On Monday August 17th, from 3–4:30 p.m. ET, REL Northeast & Islands researchers will present a new study on definitions and policies related to competency-based education and implementation across the New England region. If you haven’t learned about New Hampshire’s efforts to develop a new system of assessment that includes performance-based assessment, this will be a chance to listen to Paul Leather discuss the implementation of PACE in several pilot districts. Register here.

Presenters include Aubrey Scheopner Torres, PhD, Assistant Professor, Saint Anselm College; Research Consultant, REL Northeast & Islands and Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner of Education, New Hampshire Department of Education. The Discussant is Julia Freeland, Research Fellow, Clayton Christensen Institute. The webinar will be be moderated by Jessica Brett, Northeast College and Career Readiness Research Alliance, and Joshua Cox, Researcher, Northeast College and Career Readiness Research Alliance.

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Revisiting Threads of Implementation

August 3, 2015 by

MaineDOEI had the chance to re-read Threads of Implementation: A Thematic Review of Six Case Studies of Maine School Districts Implementing Proficiency-Based/Learner-Centered Systems, a summary of the six case studies prepared by the Maine Department of Education. It is such a helpful overview of the early work in Maine that I’ve decided to reprint it here. It’s also an example of one of the new functions for state education agencies – sharing tools, documenting processes, and helping districts to learn from each other.

Beginning in February 2012, the Maine Department of Education through its Center for Best Practice (Center) began publishing a series of in-depth case studies of school districts who were implementing proficiency-based/learner-centered systems. These districts were in very different stages of their implementation journeys. For example, the member districts of the Western Maine Education Collaborative (WMEC) were just beginning implementation while Poland Regional High School (of RSU 16) had been completely proficiency-based since it opened in 1999. Though each of the districts featured in the Center over the last two years took decidedly different paths on their way to change, there were common themes that emerged throughout the case studies. Their experiences serve as lessons for other Maine districts just beginning this transition in preparation for all schools in the state issuing diplomas starting in 2018 to students based on demonstrated proficiency.

Vision and Framework (more…)

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