What’s New in Competency Education

June 16, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.54.23 AMThere seems to be more reports, articles and advancements in competency education than ever before.  Periodically we’ll put it all together for you in a blog to make it easier for you to just stop by to do a quick catch up.

  • Lindsay Unified School District has released a video Transforming Education about their personalized, performance-based system.  I really appreciated the extended cut. (FYI next opportunity to visit LUSD is October 3rd).
  • Marzano Research Laboratory is releasing a book on High Reliability Schools. Competency education is the fifth and highest level. It’s on my summer reading list.
  • Education Achievement Authority’s Burns Middle School is highlighted in Ed Surge Low-Performing Detroit Middle School Eliminates Grade Levels, Goes Blended. In partnership with Matchbook Learning, EAA implemented a blended, competency-based model. The article points out that Buzz allows “unstructured blended learning” in which students and teachers can make choices that make the most sense to them. It also explains how the concept of self-paced isn’t quite accurate: Though work is self-paced, Ms. Parker also reports that students work together to get each other farther. “Kids want to be higher. They band together to work harder,” she says. Finally, you can hear a new language emerging — leveling up.
  • You can get up to speed on how to think about technology in Roadmap for Competency-based Systems: Leveraging Next Generation Technologies developed by Council of Chief State School Officers and 2 Revolutions.
  • The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools is starting to look at competency education. See their report. The League is made up of districts that have made substantial progress in implementing blended learning. They  are now becoming interested in taking the next step to competency education.  As they move forward we’ll learn a lot more about how to best implement blended learning in competency education and where there might be misalignment.
  • The Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching has updated their 50 state scan of course credit policies.
  • Nellie Mae Education Foundation created a video What is Competency Education?

And in higher education:

 

Finding Your Way With a Roadmap

June 13, 2014 by

Most of the districts that have converted to competency education have done so with very little use of technologScreen Shot 2014-06-13 at 9.32.28 AMy. It’s been a transformation based on a different philosophy of how to motivate students (the intrinsic joy and pride of learning instead of the extrinsic grading system) and a re-engineering of the system around learning rather than the delivery of curriculum.

However, competency education will be a lot easier to manage if there is adequate management information systems. Blended learning can be structured to allow students to move ahead to more advanced studies.  Well-structured adaptive software can really give a boost to students who need some help building skills at the levels of recall and comprehension. (See Susan Patrick’s blog on the different characteristics of adaptability).

Getting a solid picture of the technological landscape isn’t easy to do. The Roadmap for Competency-based Systems: Leveraging Next Generation Technologies is designed to do just that – identify the key questions and steps to figure out how technology can help you better implement competency education as well as generate the greatest benefits. My guess is that you will find the glossary really helpful as well. Thanks to Council of Chief State School Officers and 2 Revolutions for developing this tool.

Interested in innovative school models? What to consider to make sure they are successful

June 10, 2014 by
Anthony Kim

Anthony Kim

In working with over 100 schools across the country on new approaches to integrating instruction and technology in order to personalize learning, we’ve learned a lot about school models.

For decades, many schools have looked to digital content and online instruction primarily as a way to move students on one axis, below grade level to at grade level or at grade level to above grade level. This is demonstrated by the proliferation of credit recovery programs as well as the massive use of programs like Khan Academy. Often, the use of these programs for individual students is geared towards having students start at one point and complete tasks at a level of proficiency to get to another point (Figure 1, click on images for larger view).

Figure 1

Figure 1

The blended learning approach and subsequent new school models start to look at two axes, with x-axis being the one we already discussed, levels of learning (and acceleration of learning content), and the y-axis being the depth of learning (Figure 2).  For example, we often show a three group rotational model and associate the potential of these rotations to focus on different levels of Bloom’s (Figure 3). You can also apply Webb’s Depth of Knowledge here, but in this example, we will use Bloom’s for consistency. The independent station is great for students to learn at their own pace to be introduced to or practice new skills using adaptive digital content,  which emphasizes the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – remembering and understanding.  At the small group instruction station, students receive instruction from the teacher to learn to apply and analyze skills. The project/collaboration station is great for students to work together on projects and develop mastery (evaluating and creating). [As a note, we can describe other models using the same approach, but I’m using the rotational model since it’s the easiest to describe.]

figure 2

Figure 2

figure 3

Figure 3

(more…)

#BlendedLearning: What Adaptive Technologies Do (Answering the “To What End” Question)

June 9, 2014 by
Susan Patrick

Susan Patrick

Originally posted June 6, 2014 at Education Domain

The phone rings and a superintendent is asking, “What adaptive software do I need to personalize learning?” If only the question were so simple. How does this “stuff” work? Getting precise about what specific technologies actually do in the instructional model is an important step to clarify in implementing high-quality blended learning.

For years, people have been using technology to improve their lives based on their individual needs – having access to information on-demand. Teachers using instructional technologies can improve strategies and methods to help student learning in powerful ways. It is fundamental for school leaders and teachers as “learning designers” to understand the specific functions that any specific technology provides in a personalized, student-centered learning environment.

In a recent meeting iNACOL and CompetencyWorks hosted with practitioners and technical assistance providers – we began to deconstruct how adaptive technologies are used to support different instructional models.

Here are the top 5 ways adaptive technologies are used:

Adaptive – It is very important for education leaders and educators to define the functions for which we use adaptive technologies – or be precise about the different meanings of adaptive (for what purpose) in personalized, competency-based instructional models:

  1. Leveling: Example – the adaptive technology helps identify precise “levels” for student differentiated lexile levels.
    (more…)

Maine Walks the Talk – Extends Date for Proficiency-based Diplomas

by
innovation cycle

Innovation cycle from Wikipedia

In 2012, Maine’s legislature passed L.D. 1422, which established proficiency-based high school diplomas. The policy stated that the class of 2015 would be expected to demonstrate proficiency, not just pass a class in English, math, science, social studies and physical education. Based on requests from superintendents statewide for more time, however, Maine’s Department of Education is allowing districts to extend the date that proficiency-based diplomas will be required to 2020.

This is a smart decision on the part of Maine’s Department of Education. Proficiency-based education really has to be a voluntary reform – one that people do because they think it makes sense and will do the right thing for kids. From what I can tell, a third to a half of Maine’s districts have moved towards proficiency-based education (see the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning). In general, these districts have embraced the idea of proficiency-based education. The last time I was in Maine, however, it was clear that many are still in the early stages of implementation. (more…)

Reflections on Competency-Based and Blended Learning

June 6, 2014 by

 

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From edelements.com

Originally posted June 4, 2014 by Education Elements

Last week, Justin DeLeon and I attended the Competency Based Education Convening in Los Angeles, held by CompetencyWorks, an initiative led by iNACOL and MetisNet. The goal of the convening was to bring together technical assistance experts in the field around competency-based education and blended learning to better understand how blended, competency-based programs can facilitate personalized learning (which emphasizes student voice and choice). The technical assistance providers in attendance were comprised of competency-based learning organizations, such as Re-Inventing Schools Coalition (RISC), recent authors of papers on pertinent topics including Liz Glowa and Julia Freeland, in addition to practitioners of competency-based programs like Boston Day and Evening Academy.

 

The group visited USC Hybrid High and further developed practices pitches to superintendents on what ideal steps we would take to achieve a blended, competency-based program to achieve personalization across a set of schools. Over two intense days, we determined a current roadblock to understanding how blended learning could better facilitate competency-based learning was the glaring need to clarify for the field how digital content providers’ pedagogy is designed to personalize. (more…)

100%

June 5, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 8.52.23 PMOne hundred percent of the public institutions of higher education in five states have endorsed proficiency-based education. That’s right — 100%.

The New England Secondary School Consortium (NESSC) announced that all the public colleges and universities as well as three private colleges in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont have endorsed proficiency-based education. That’s 55 colleges and universities.

I recently talked with Cory Curl from ACHIEVE about their meeting last week with higher education representatives and competency education leaders. She reported that there was general agreement that proficiency-based transcripts should not be a problem as colleges are used to receiving and making sense of all kinds of transcripts.  She also said there were several higher education associations at the meeting that are considering raising competency education at their meetings to get further support and acceptance for proficiency-based transcripts.

The conversation with Cory touched on what it is going to take to get elite colleges to endorse proficiency-based education. She suggested that a specific ask, such as a statement on their admissions websites that clearly states that they accept proficiency-based transcripts, might be considered rather than trying to get endorsements. Elite colleges, being elite. tend to avoid engaging in and advancing specific education reforms or participating in state-level efforts.

So I think it is safe to say we are making steady progress at addressing a fear, some considered a barrier to be overcome, about competency education. We are continuing to get confirmation that competency-based transcripts are not going to impact college admissions. We just have to keep working to get more colleges and universities in other parts of the country to sign on, or at a minimum say they’ll accept proficiency-based transcripts. One of the very easy things all of us can do is start to lay the groundwork by sending a letter to the president and trustees of our alma mater encouraging them to clarify on their admissions web page that they accept competency-based transcripts. Hopefully other intermediary organizations will take on the leadership role that NESCC has shown in engage higher education in other states and regions.  I’m sure NESSC would be glad to share their process and road bumps. (And bravo to all of you that facilitated the conversations and coordinated the endorsements).

FYI: The press release from NESSC was full of great quotes that others might find handy in their work:

Tim Donovan, Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges:  “The Vermont State Colleges signed the endorsement for a simple reason: it’s the right thing to do for our students and for our colleges. Today’s complex world demands more from the education of our young people—in K–12 schools and in colleges and universities. We have to work together to equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in every area of life. At the Vermont State Colleges, we want the educators in our state—and throughout New England and the country—to know that we fully support their innovative efforts to better prepare our young people for the future. No hoops, no hurdles.” (more…)

Teachers in charge: USC Hybrid High’s approach to competency-based blended learning

June 4, 2014 by
Student at USC

From USC Hybrid High School web site

Originally posted June 3, 2014 at Christensen Institute.

Last week I had the privilege of visiting the USC Hybrid High School (HHS), a new charter school in Los Angeles and winner of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Challenges grant. HHS is pursuing a blended and competency-based model—that is, the school is leveraging technology to deliver some academic content online and building opportunities for students to advance upon mastery, rather than according to hours of instruction. HHS has seen numerous iterations over its past two years in existence (EdSurge’s Mary Jo Madda did a great write-up of these changes earlier this year).

For example, last year the school used Apex Learning almost exclusively to drive a flex blended-learning model (wherein online learning is the backbone, and teachers work with students one-on-one and in groups on projects and tutorials). Now, in its second year, the school has shifted away from a single-provider model to instead making teachers the primary designers of the blended-learning models in their individual classrooms by using a wider range of tools. The school is also putting its money where its mouth is in this design: each teacher receives a stipend to purchase his own software products according to his particular course(s) and tastes. (more…)

Step Two: Picture It

June 3, 2014 by
Artist_at_Work

From Wikicommons

One of the first things teachers and teams ask for when we begin talking about student-centered proficiency-based learning is an example of what it looks like. I tend to go here with teams and teachers after learning targets are in place; I think having something in place makes it easier to build the rest of the vision. (See Step One: Separate the Baby from the Bathwater.) To help people picture what a student’s day might look like in a competency-based system, I share this narrative with them:

Bobby walks into his team wing ready for the day to begin. It is early October and he has settled into his team and schedule. They spent the last few weeks building a team culture and working to understand where they are in their learning. At this point, Bobby feels like he knows where he belongs and is ready to jump in to his learning.

At the end of advisory, Bobby heads over to his numeracy workshop class. When he walks into the room his teachers, Ms. Brown and Ms. Green, have posted a problem on the whiteboard. He and his classmates work on it independently for a few minutes, then they are told to get into groups and share their answers and how they solved it. Ms. Brown and Ms. Green walk around and check in with each group. (more…)

Webinar on Competency Education and Expanded Learning

June 2, 2014 by
From CCSSO.org

From CCSSO.org

The American Youth Policy Forum is sponsoring a webinar Promoting Partnerships Between K-12 and Expanded Learning through Competency-Based Approaches on June 12, 2014, 1-2:30 PM ET. Expanded learning is an important technique for personalizing education for students — see examples from Pittsfield and Making Community Connections Charter School. This webinar is a great chance to get up to speed on the practices and policy conditions that can enable students to build their skills out in the real-world.

Below is the description of the webinar and you can register here:

Students need a broad range of knowledge, skills, and abilities to graduate from high school prepared for college and career success. K-12 systems have traditionally been unable to incorporate many of those skills into their instructional practices. However, many educators and policymakers are beginning to reframe their approach around a more student-centered philosophy in which student progress can be measured through demonstration of competency in place of seat time.

As this shift to a system focused on measuring actual competency takes hold in communities across the country, this means that educators can think more flexibly about what counts as an educational opportunity. Expanded learning opportunities that take place beyond the traditional school day, either at school in community-based organizations or in real-world settings, can provide student-centered learning opportunities. They should be seen as a key partner with schools to promote academic advancement and college and career readiness for all students. More intentional partnerships between school day educators and expanded learning opportunities can validate learning already happening in non-formal settings and allow for a wide range of learning experiences that might otherwise be unavailable to students.

This webinar will be the first in a series focused on showcasing promising initiatives in which expanded learning is being embedded into competency-based K-12 systems. This event will discuss the rationale for such an approach, describe program implementation strategies, and highlight the necessary conditions for implementation. Presenters will include Kim Carter, QED Foundation; Alexis Menten, Asia Society; Jennifer Portillo, Denver Center for International Studies; and Beth Colby, Council of Chief State School Officers.

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