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.

a project of

inacol logo

January CompetencyWorks Catch-Up

February 1, 2016 by

Calendar Page JanHere are the highlights from January 2016 on CompetencyWorks. Happy reading. And let us know if you have questions you want us to delve into!

Maine Road Trip Series

RSU2

Wells High School

University of Maine at Presque Isle

Northern Maine Education Collaborative

(more…)

Print Friendly

Northern Maine Education Collaborative: High Aspirations

January 29, 2016 by

Northern Maine CollaborativeThis post is part of the Maine Road Trip series. 

While visiting with President Linda Schott and Provost Ray Rice at the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI), I learned about the Northern Maine Education Collaborative (NMEC), which was formed by seventeen districts to implement proficiency-based learning. Through its partnership with UMPI, NMEC is located downstairs from the President’s Office. Luckily, the stars were aligned and I had a chance to meet with David Ouellette, Director of the Central Aroostook Council on Education and the coordinator of NMEC.

Ouellette is a long-time educator in northern Maine, including having served as a principal. He described the community as “low income and high aspirations. We expect our kids to do well. They may leave to pursue education and jobs. However, we expect them to eventually come back here. This has been the foundation that has enabled us to be progressive in taking the initiative to improve education.”

Ouellette explained that the districts in Aroostook County are very interested in proficiency-based learning but have wanted to let the effort get grounded before they take substantial steps forward. He said, “We have learned that there can be a danger in getting too far out front. Previous efforts such as building new systems of assessments have died of their own weight.”

As he described the collaborative efforts of the seventeen districts in NMEC, it didn’t sound as if they were hanging back at all. In fact, because of the deep commitment to building the system together and with UMPI as a partner, what I was hearing was an intentional strategy that would ultimately create a relatively seamless, countywide proficiency-based system. The NMEC was formed because the districts knew that proficiency-based diplomas are a statewide policy and that there are cost-savings to be found if they coordinate their efforts. Lois Brewer, Assistant Superintendent, RSU 39 and Rae Bates, Curriculum Coordinator, RSU 29 are the co-chairs.

NMEC started by studying proficiency-based learning. They then began to make decisions together about instruction, habits of work, and information systems. Ouellette enthused, “It’s been quite an adventure. How lucky we are! These seventeen districts have come together in this time in history to create a system stretching from PreK-16. They have done some groundbreaking things by making countywide decisions.” For example, they are using the Art and Science of Teaching as a foundation for instruction and evaluation. The districts are all using iObservation to support evaluation and instructional improvement. They are adopting Habits of Mind as a strategy to support students in building the skills identified in Maine’s Guiding Principles. Finally, they are investing in the purchase of Empower (it’s the 2.0 version of the information management system Educate) to track student progress. They are working with the team that created Empower so they can build the local capacity to use its functionality and continue customizing it as needed. (more…)

Print Friendly

Collecting a “Body of Evidence”

January 28, 2016 by

StudyThis is the second in a series of articles specific to the developing understanding of skills and dispositions of educators working with students in a competency-based educational system. There has been increased recognition nationally of the importance of skills and dispositions and how these are entwined within the overall growth and College and Career Readiness of learners. The skills and dispositions are referred to in a number of ways (Non-cognitive skills, Habits of Learners, Work Habits, General Learning Outcomes, “soft skills,” etc.). Our school has been delving into skills and dispositions for the past few years, but we have found that there are limited resources to support our work, and at times, this has caused frustration. We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the recently released Essential Skills and Dispositions Frameworks (Lench, S., Fukuda, E., & Anderson, R. (2015)) this upcoming school year to support our continued learning in this area. For the purposes of this series of articles, we will be using the term the State of New Hampshire recognizes, Work Study Practices. Locally, we have aligned the Responsive Classroom’s CARES to our State of New Hampshire’s Work Study Practices, which are referenced in this series of articles.

The first article in this series, Our School’s Developing Understanding of Skills and Dispositions, may be found here.

During our school’s transition to a competency-based educational system, our understanding of the importance of Work Study Practices has evolved significantly. One of the major shifts in our understanding has been relative to the importance of building a body of evidence specific to a child’s demonstration of Work Study Practices. During the initial stages of this transition, teachers may have only put one grade per marking period related to skills and dispositions. This began to change as teachers began to question why we wouldn’t be assessing work study practices on a more formative, ongoing basis as we did with our academic competencies. The resulting grade would be far less subjective than a “one-time” assessment at the end of the marking period.

Teachers also began to question how the resulting information was reported. Traditionally, it had not mattered that there was only one grade in a system because that was all that would be reported anyway. But now, with a body of evidence for each child, the information was averaging. We knew from our experience that this wasn’t a fair or accurate indicator of reporting either. We had moved away from “averaging” as part of our transition to a competency-based system. We knew that the most recent, consistent data was most relevant. It gave us information on where a student was on that DAY, not a compilation of the data over the course of six, ten, or even twelve weeks. This resulted in our district turning on the “trend-line” to report Work Study Practices, as we were doing for our academic competencies.

Building a body of evidence for our students’ CARES (Work Study Practices) has allowed us to truly follow a child’s growth, help them progress in specific areas, and provide the child and his/her parents with relevant and timely information related to where he/she currently is in his/her progression.

The insight of two of our teachers below describes their growth in understanding as we began the shift to a competency-based educational system. Their reflections within this particular article are specific to their developing understanding of the importance of Work Study Practices within their classrooms, and how the assessment of Work Study Practices is no longer considered just once at the end of a marking period. This change in mindset has proven to have an impact on not only how we assess WSP, but how integral it is to the learning process itself. (more…)

Print Friendly

University of Maine at Presque Isle: Eliminating Remediation

January 27, 2016 by
UMPI President Linda Schott

UMPI President Linda Schott

This post is part of the Maine Road Trip series. This is the last in a three-part series on the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Read the first overview here and the second post on a faculty perspective.

One of the most fascinating discussions that was woven throughout my day at the University of Maine at Presque Isle was about the potential (and issues) of deeper alignment with high schools.

Linda Schott, President of UMPI, pointed out that creating the opportunity for students to build college credit while in high school is very important for their students. “Seventy percent of our students are eligible for PELL. High school students earning college credits are saving a huge amount of money, as the cost to them is $15 per credit instead of $220. For many who are going to be the first in their families to go to college, they are learning that they can do college level work. Dual enrollment helps students financially, can speed up the time to degree completion, and of course we hope that they will want to come to UMPI.”

Ray Rice, Provost, described the changes to dual enrollment in a proficiency-based system with, “We have always organized a little bit of early college and dual enrollment with a few of the districts in the county. With the introduction of proficiency-based learning at UMPI, we are retooling the process to meet the expectations of high quality pedagogy and transparent learning objectives, with the high school teachers becoming adjunct professors. UMPI faculty review the syllabus and the summative assessments as well as norming the rubrics in a process to calibrate at a college level.”

According to Rice, UMPI faculty are learning from high school teachers about practices used in proficiency-based learning and vice versa. In addition, the dual enrollment coordinator is now playing a catalytic role in helping to build up a set of proficiency-based dual enrollment courses. Of the sixteen high schools in the county, UMPI is currently working with five of them. (more…)

Print Friendly

iNACOL Submits Recommendations to ED In Open Comment Period for ESSA Request for Information

January 26, 2016 by

Image from Wikipedia Commons

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 22, 2106.

ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority pilot program represents a significant opportunity for states to design student-centered education systems that improve equity by personalizing education for all students. We hope the Department considers these recommendations as it designs a pilot program that encourages innovation and quality implementation.

In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing number of states interested in the development of new, student-centered systems of assessments designed to support competency-based learning. But despite their potential to produce meaningful, real-time feedback on student learning, federal assessment requirements have made it challenging for states to design and implement new approaches to academic assessment.

Fortunately, the newly-enacted ESSA law includes a number of key provisions to help states interested in building next generation assessment systems. These provisions include a new Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority and provisions that will permit states to design assessment systems that incorporate individual student growth, use multiple measures of student learning from multiple points in time to determine summative scores, and use adaptive assessments that can measure students where they are in their learning. These improvements will help states design more useful assessments that guide improvements in teaching and learning to ensure all students master the academic knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary for success in college and career.

While we strongly support all of these improvements to the law, the following recommendations address clarifications of intent within the Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority authorized in Sec. 1204 of ESSA. We provide details for these recommendations below in the formal comment letter to ED.

Recommendations include: (more…)

Print Friendly

The 7Cs to College and Career Competency

by

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on December 16, 2015. 

Marion is small urban center in Northwest Ohio with a history of manufacturing. When Gary Barber took over as superintendent three years ago, the district launched a series of community conversations that led to aggressive reforms seeking improved academic performance and workforce preparation.

In addition to laying the groundwork for career pathways, Director of College and Career Success Stephen Fujii hired META Solutions consultant Lori Vandeborne (a former Marion administrator) as an instructional coach.

The superintendent outlines next steps in personalized and blended learning:

Faced with low achievement in Mathematics, Marion City Schools stepped up to the challenge to transform student engagement with more personalized instruction by providing immediate feedback. This feedback loop empowers students within the Next Generation Learning Environments to own their learning. Teachers integrate technology as a tool to promote individualized experiences scaffolded to match the learning pace and path for students.

Our conversations with teachers about their next-gen vision led to the development of 7C’s to College and Career Competency, a foundational model that can be used from the classroom to district level for organization of instruction to authenticate and personalize learning. They are outlined below with a case study that illustrates their application.

marion-leveraging-learning-625pxw (more…)

Print Friendly

UMPI: Faculty Perspective

January 25, 2016 by
Scott_Dobrin

Dr. Scott Dobrin, Assistant Professor of Biology

This post is part of the Maine Road Trip series. This is the second in a three-part series on the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Read the first overview here or continue with the third post on eliminating remediation.

During my visit to University of Maine at Presque Isle, I had the chance to meet with Scott Dobrin, an Assistant Professor of Biology, to hear about his experience in moving toward proficiency-based learning. He has been wanting to organize a course that would look at consciousness from several perspectives (such as scientific, philosophical, literary, and psychological) for a while. When the opportunity for designing a proficiency-based course arose, he and Lea Allen, an English professor, proposed designing a course for freshmen on consciousness. The first discussion centered on the question of, “What do we want the students to get out of the course? There is no way they are going to learn everything about consciousness in one semester. So we had to identify the learning objectives that we wanted them to do really well.”

They designed the course by identifying themes, out of which they would then build the text, movies (such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Matrix), and other activities to engage the students. As students engaged in questions regarding consciousness, they then began to develop presentations to capture their analysis and ideas. Thus, in addition to building a base of knowledge, exploring and analyzing complex issues, students built up the workplace skill of organizing and communicating complex ideas.

Our conversation moved to what is different in his biology classes now that they are proficiency-based. As Dobrin put it, “The pedagogy shows you that lecture doesn’t work well. Proficiency-based learning is about students being active and engaged. So now my classrooms are much more about activity than pure lecture. I use the flipped classroom and then develop ways for students to be active in the classroom. My classroom is totally different.” He noted that he hasn’t been able to find all the videos he needed, so he has been making his own videos that are organized to be more “bite-sized and streamlined.” He pointed out, “I tell my students that there is zero possibility for you to be a passive learner in this classroom and get anything out of it. You need to participate and stay on top of things.” (more…)

Print Friendly

The Overwhelming Act of Assessing Writing in a CBE School

January 22, 2016 by

CB1If you’ve ever been an English teacher, you know what it’s like to teach writing to 95 students who all hold different skill sets in writing.

You know what it’s like to helplessly stare at a pile of 95 essays, knowing that your students need immediate, detailed feedback to guide their revision process.

You also know the frustration of grading those 95 essays, feeling hopeless and disappointed when students are still making the same mistakes as they were on the last essay, even though you went over it hundreds of times during class.

And then revision, arguably the most important piece of the writing process, never happens, because you ran out of time and they had to do it on their own.

And the cycle repeats on the next essay. You cry. You emotionally eat lots of cheese and chocolate.

But because you believe in a competency-based system, and you know that students need to continually practice their writing skills to get better at it, you figure out a better way to teach it. (more…)

Print Friendly

Avoiding “Learned Helplessness”

January 21, 2016 by

HandsThis post originally appeared at Edutopia on May 11, 2015.

We all have students that just want to “get it right.” We all have students that constantly seek the attention of the teacher. “Did I get this right?” “Is this what you want?” Now while it’s certainly a good thing to affirm students in their learning, many times we want students to be creative with their learning. We allow them to own their learning and create assessment products where they can show us what they know in new and inventive ways. Because of this, there isn’t “one right answer,” yet our students are often trained to think that there can be only one. (more…)

Print Friendly

University of Maine at Presque Isle: Moving at the Speed of Light

January 20, 2016 by

Speed of LightThis post is part of the Maine Road Trip series. This is the first in a three-part series on the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Continue reading with the second post on UMPI faculty perspective and the third on insight into eliminating remediation.

I’m a newbie when it comes to understanding competency education in institutions of higher education (IHE). At the highest level, competency education is the same for higher education as it is for K-12. However, the policy and market context are so, so, so different that I tend to listen carefully for the variations. Furthermore, most IHE are creating competency-based programs to expand the options available for students.

Not so at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. This college is turning proficiency-based from top to bottom (or at least as far as the policy constraints will allow). And they are doing so “at light speed.” What this means is that in a few years, when you travel beyond the end of US 95, you will find what I think will be the first aligned proficiency-based K-12/higher education system. I’m getting goose bumps just writing this! [Note: Given that Maine has a catalytic policy to introduce proficiency-based diplomas across the state, UMPI uses the term proficiency-based, whereas the phrase competency-based is generally used in higher education.] (more…)

Print Friendly
WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera