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

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…)

Print Friendly

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.

Print Friendly

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…)

Print Friendly

Think of Competency Education as a GPS System

August 1, 2015 by

GPSWe still haven’t fully conquered the communication challenge regarding competency education, although we are getting closer with the help of Achieve’s Communication Toolkit.

Although this explanation written by three school board members from Chittenden South Supervisory Unit in the Shelburne News is focused on standards-based learning I think it is worth sharing because it can help us strengthen our communications. They start off with the analogy of a GPS system—helping students to reach their destination with lots of ways of getting there and then emphasize three important points. If we were to use the GPS as a metaphor — what are the 2-4 things we should emphasize in competency education? – how about making sure students get the learning they need for the next level; able to build and develop skills anywhere; schools responding to students when they need help; able to apply what they are learning to real-world problems?  Or would you start with pace? Is flexible pace really the most important aspect of competency education? How do we communicate that flexible pace doesn’t mean letting kids fall behind?

What is standards-based learning?

One way to think about SBL is through the metaphor of a Global Positioning System (GPS). Our goal as educators is to help students reach their destinations—the standards. In a standards-based system, education focuses on three areas:

Articulate: Educators design Learning Targets for their classes aligned with national, state, and local standards. These targets clearly articulate what students should know, understand, and be able to do for each unit of study. The targets are like the “destinations” in a GPS. We decide where we want to go, and we enter the location—we need to be specific about our destinations in order to get the best directions. Teachers, students, and parents are aware of the destinations, so there is no mystery about where we are headed. (more…)

Print Friendly

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…)

Print Friendly

Learning Progressions: Are Student-Centered State Standards Possible?

July 27, 2015 by

Stepping StonesIt’s interesting – we have this enormous set of academic standards (Common Core, Next Generation Science, and other state standards), but it’s not 100 percent clear if they were designed by backing out of what a group of experts think students need to be “college and career ready,” or to what degree they were established by how students really learn, moving from one concept to the next. If we were really committed to student learning, then we would want to make sure that the way standards are organized is based on the very best of what we know about how students learn and how instruction can help students learn.

There has been substantial research into how students actually learn and the best strategies to help them advance to the next concept. This set of research has produced learning progressions (also called maps or trajectories, but I’ll just use the phrase learning progressions). It’s helpful to think about learning progressions as the stepping stones across a river – there are many ways across, but some are definitely better than others.

Achieve held a meeting in May, gathering the researchers and state leaders to talk about the learning progressions and the potential value to our efforts to establish competency-based pathways. It was a fascinating meeting because of the incredible potential of these powerful instructional approaches and because of the number of remaining issues that need to be resolved.

What are Learning Progressions and How are They Valuable?

One of the big issues (although it should not stop us from moving forward) is that there is no one agreed upon definition of learning progressions among the researchers who have developed them. In fact, their field would be much more influential if they did a bit of field-building among themselves. Examples of the definitions highlighted at the Achieve meeting include:

  • Increasingly sophisticated ways of thinking about or understanding a topic
  • A framework for formative classroom practice that reflects how students learn within a domain
  • Building blocks to mastery of knowledge and skills addressed in college- and career-ready standards

(more…)

Print Friendly

Re-Thinking Assets in Competency-Based Transcripts

July 21, 2015 by

ClassroomOne of the opportunities that emerges in competency education (or competency-based education in the world of higher education) is to revise the transcript – both high school and college – to reflect the competencies that students have developed. This can include academic, technical, and the personal traits (habits of learning & work) that students have demonstrated. The Great Schools Partnership has worked with states, districts, and New England college admission directors to develop a prototype proficiency-based transcript. In addition, according to Inside Higher Ed, “The Lumina Foundation has kicked in $1.27 million for NASPA to partner with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) to explore how to collect, document and distribute information about student learning and ‘competencies,’ including what is gleaned outside of the traditional academic classroom.”

At the high school level, the emphasis has been on developing a proficiency-based transcript that would be accepted by and helpful to the admission process. At the college level, the focus is on creating a transcript that would tell the story of an individual’s overall skills to an employer. For example, we can anticipate that new transcripts might expand to include digital badging so students can demonstrate their credentials or micro-credentials specifically related to technical skills.

This is also an opportunity for us to begin to re-think how we define assets. Our focus on college and career readiness in the K12 sector and the tightening of the pipeline from college into the workplace in higher education has expanded to think more broadly than just academic and technical skills. We now recognize that those “soft skills” that are so hard to develop – such as creativity, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving as well as the personal traits such as persistence – are equally important. (more…)

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