February 6, 2013 by Barbara Weed
Reflecting on the work that has just been completed is one of the most valuable steps in the learning process, but it’s a step that is easily neglected in school. Students who take the time to look at what they’ve done and think about what they could do to improve are the students who make consistent, visible progress in their learning. Reflection is a competency that should be a routine activity in every student’s school day. Teachers know that students need to reflect, but time constraints make it easy to drop this relatively passive step that is already at the end of a learning experience.
Helping students develop positive learning habits is one way that we ensure that students are prepared to be lifelong learners. Thoughtful reflection has to be one of those habits, otherwise students are just engaging in the skills of the moment and aren’t building on previous learning. Getting students to take the time to ponder what they have learned helps them deepen their learning by connecting the various steps in their process and comparing them to previous experience. (more…)
February 5, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
From MCSD website
The following is the testimony from Andrea Stewart, Gifted and Talented Coordinator for Muscatine Community Schools and member of the State’s Competency-based Education Task Force at the Iowa State Legislature last month. It is a powerful statement as it demonstrates that competency education can be valuable for students in gifted/talented programs as well as those who are struggling to catch up.
We are here, not because we have perfected a system of learning for our students, but because we have with us student voices to share how their learning is changing in our pilot CBE classrooms this year. Muscatine is an innovative district supported by bold leaders who recognize that our students’ needs can no longer be met by our antiquated system and that the time for an educational paradigm shift is now. Through deliberate and ongoing engineering, our district is piloting competency-based education in 14 classrooms because it removes the barriers of time and place from our students’ educational experiences—two of the most intractable elements in our schools today. By focusing on the core competencies of each course instead of on the Carnegie unit, our educators have combined fidelity to the Iowa Core with enduring concepts and depths of knowledge that allow students to demonstrate their learning in refreshing, personalized ways. CBE benefits struggling learners who need additional time to master concepts, content, or skills, learners who have graduation requirement deficits, students who are ready to learn anytime, anywhere, gifted and talented learners who progress at ages younger or rates faster than their chronological peers, teachers who are looking for ways to more effectively differentiate the learning taking place both in and out of their classrooms, and administrators who are looking for real-time data and school-wide patterns. (more…)
February 4, 2013 by Bill Zima
1970′s ZOOM from website
When talking with people who are not educators, I often think of Fannee Doollee, a character from the Zoom television series, which ran on PBS in the late seventies, who has a fascination with double letters. Fannee Doollee loves one thing but hates something very similar. For example, she loves swEEts but hates candy (notice the double EE in sweets). Similarly, in my conversation with parents and community leaders, I am always amazed at how they can advocate for one thing while mocking a possible solution.
For example, last week I found myself at a round table with eight influential community members. Then it happened. One of the leaders begins talking about her granddaughter in Virginia and how the school gives students a chance to “do over” an assignment until they get it right. She looked at me and pleaded, “Bill, tell me your school does not do that.” All heads nodded in support, and then slowly turned toward me. Enter the image of Fannee Doollee; “They love having students prePPed, but hate giving them time to learn.” (more…)
by Chris Sturgis
Hi all – iNACOL has opened up its process for presentation proposals for sessions at the Virtual Schools Symposium. The theme of this year’s symposium will be “Transforming to Student-Centered Learning.”
As you may know, iNACOL organized a strand of presentations on competency education last year. This year we want to make it even better by being a bit more strategic – by finding out what topics people want to learn about as well as pro-actively constructing a set of presentations that build upon each other.
So first step – can you use the comments section (or email me) to list any topics you would really like to see covered at VSS? We videotape some of them so they can be used later as well. Or, if you are already working on a presentation proposal, let us know so we can coordinate around it and avoid duplication.
The conference will be held from October 27 – 30, 2013 in Orlando, FL at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. The Request for Presentation Proposals (RFP) is currently available on the conference website. To access the RFP and submit your presentation, please visit http://vssrfp.inacol.org. The deadline for submitting presentation proposals is March 25, 2013.
January 30, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
Digital Learning Now has just released it’s new paper — and its on competency education. (Disclaimer: I’m one of the authors)
The Shift from Cohorts to Competency takes a look at competency education through the lens of what is possible with digital tools. The paper includes 10 design choices that schools are making and 10 new capacities that states will need to develop.
The info graphics are great and I’m sure they will be of value to you in your work.
by Chris Sturgis
From Garfield H.S. website
Teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle WA are boycotting – they have voted to not administer the district-mandated Measuresof Academic Progress (MAP) standardized test. The formal reason for the reason behind the boycott of this specific assessment, one of many used in Seattle, is it not aligned with state standards or the district curriculum.
I happened to be in the car yesterday and caught an interview with Jesse Hagopian, a high school history teacher on the radio. (Here is his op-ed to the Seattle Times) He explained that the teachers felt that it was unfair to students, in fact he described it as setting students up for failure, as the test included math content that the students had not been exposed to as the curriculum was not aligned with the test.
That’s one of the premises of designing assessments for competency-based environments – students need to have demonstrated proficiency (not just be exposed to the curriculum) before taking summative assessments. In fact, when used appropriately MAP, an online, adaptive assessment, can be used to help understand where a student is on their learning progression when they first enter a school so that instruction can be targeted.
Hagopian also explained that the teachers were generally concerned with standardized tests that were not assessing the deeper learning skills of creativity and problem-solving. He suggested that other types of assessments would be more helpful.
That’s what building systems of assessments is all about. If you are interested in the topic, you can join us on Friday at 2:30 ET for the webinar featuring Casco Bay High School, Vergennes Unified High School, and the Center for Collaborative Education to hear about how these schools are building their capacity for designing assessments that are meaningful to students.
January 29, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
“CBE allows me to be teacher that I always knew that I could be and that I should be. It’s allowed me to be a facilitator. Students are now coming to me as a resource rather than as the source of information.” That is what Muscatine High School language arts teacher Chanda Hassett told Iowa’s State Legislative panel about competency-based education.
As reported in an article Competency based education draws rave reviews in Iowa House hearing by Jason Noble in the Des Moines Register website, both teachers and students were enthusiastic about their competency-based pilot. (If you haven’t read it, here Elizabeth Sturm’s student at Muscatine’s reflection on competency education)
I hear the students were incredibly powerful speakers with great insight into competency education.
Halie Osborn, a junior at Muscatine High School testified, “I have a lot of friends in college at this point and they’ve all told me that freshman year is the worst because they don’t know how to study. CBE has taught me how to study.”
It’s reported that Chanda Hasset said she “can’t go back” to teaching the old way. Does this mean that competency education is going to take hold and never let go?
January 28, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
Last week on the CompetencyWorks advisory board call we had a conversation about the growing interest in competency education. It’s both good and not such good news. It’s good for kids because it will help us advance competency education across our nation. It’s not such great news as we are still in early stages of fully understanding all the implementation issues so that underserved students get the help they need when they need it. So if it becomes the newest trend, we are likely to see models that are called competency education where students are still being left behind.
So one way to guard against it is to share resources widely from trusted partners that have equity at the heart of their work. For example, the Great Schools Partnership is offering a free webinar on February 5th on the topic of developing effective graduation standards and performance indicators” “In this webinar, participants will learn about the fundamental components of an effective proficiency-based teaching and learning system. Because in a proficiency-based classroom, teachers target standards as their instructional foci, participants will also learn how to identify graduation standards—those skills and concepts that are at the heart of a discipline—as well as the performance indicators students must achieve to demonstrate proficiency of those graduation standards.”
You can register by clicking here.
January 24, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
from Making Mastery Work
Do you find the topic of assessments befuddling at times? I certainly do. But I’ve dedicated myself to increasing my assessment literacy. I’m making headway — in understanding all the issues involved in the different types of assessment, as well as developing an understanding what a system of assessments looks like in a competency-based world. I’d love any recommendations for the very best resources on assessment (please leave recommendations in comments) as I’m starting to update the wiki page. In the meantime here are three resources:
1) The upcoming webinar on Creating a System of Assessments will feature two of the schools from Making Mastery Work – Casco Bay High School and Vergennes Unified. We will be hearing how each school took a different approach to building out their capacity. You can register here.
2) The Quality Performance Assessment Initiative at Center for Collaborative Education has a lot of helpful information. I’m reading their new guide right now, and it is helping me understand with greater depth why performance assessment is so important. I’m realizing that it is just as important for teachers as student so that they can build the deeper teaching skills needed for deeper learning.
3) In Paul Leather’s presentation to the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents last year, slide 30 shows how NH is thinking about a balanced system to assess student mastery along learning progressions. It made a lot of sense to me and helped me understand how the pieces fit together. (by the way, this presentation has a ton of useful slides).
You can find the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Proficiency-based Learning Task Force report here.
by Brian Stack
This past week I had the privilege of attending an IEP meeting for Carter, a student that I have come to know quite well over the past three years. Carter has a learning disability and was diagnosed with ADHD back in fifth grade. School has always been a struggle for him, particularly the parts of school that require him to be focused and attentive in class and to meet assignment deadlines for his teachers in a timely manner. When he is focused, school comes relatively easy to him. With the help of his case manager and the support of his parents over the last two years, Carter has managed to earn all of his freshman credits and sophomore credits. The final course grades that appear on his transcript aren’t stellar, but regardless no one can argue with the fact that he reached proficiency for each of his course competencies and thus received credit for each of his courses. (more…)