November 7, 2014 by Rose Colby
“Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound……”
….Superman? No, not really. Looking back over the past several years in competency education, perhaps SuperPioneer is a more apt superhero symbol. In the early days of competency education, the road ahead of us was somewhat unchartered, with unknown hazards and delays along the way. The early pioneers were a bit lonely without the familiar guideposts and waypoints that normally give direction. GPS? No such thing. But one thing could be counted on—with each rising of the sun, we were that much closer to journey’s end.
What is the story that you will tell of your journey down the road to competency education? What legacy will you leave to those who follow in your district after you step off the path? These may seem like silly questions, but I do believe they are important ones. You see, we are at a unique time in the history of education. In leaving behind what some people are already calling the “dark era in education,” we find ourselves at that fork in the road where we can either forge new experiences unleashed from the past, or we can choose the path that guarantees the journey ahead will repeat the last hundred miles. (more…)
November 5, 2014 by Caroline Messenger
No matter how you approach it, you cannot mitigate the massive change agent that is competency-based education. It does not leave much room for “old school” notions of teaching and learning. It does not tolerate anything less than a committed belief that all students can achieve at high levels.
It certainly demands a philosophical and ideological shift in thinking about “best practice” in education.
When I had first embarked on this journey, I had prepared myself for these shifts as they pertained to my practice. How can I become more student-centered? What does that look like? How will I know if my students are ready?
The question I never asked: How will I assess it and grade it? (more…)
November 4, 2014 by Oliver Grenham
Because of the growing number of mass-administered, required tests under state and/or federal law, there is an increasing and unsustainable demand being placed on student time in school. In recent years, these mandated test increases have affected students in Colorado at all grade levels, from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
While student assessment is vital to learning, excessive testing is not, particularly in the way it is handled today. The quantity and quality of instructional time is what matters most for productive learning to occur.
Our experience in Adams County School District 50 has shown that a mass administration of the same test to students of the same age at the same time does not promote learning. In fact, it penalizes students, their teachers, and their schools. An overemphasis on testing significantly reduces the quantity and quality of time that could be better utilized in closing the achievement gap: something our data shows we are successfully doing.
The Teaching Learning Cycle in a Competency-Based System
We all know that teaching and learning take place in the classroom. As educators, we refer to this cyclic process as the Teaching Learning Cycle.
November 3, 2014 by Rebecca Wolfe
Originally posted on October 20, 2014 at Jobs for the Future.
Students at the Center, a Jobs for the Future initiative that synthesizes and adapts for practice current research on key components of student-centered approaches to learning that lead to deeper learning outcomes, has just launched a new research series on competency education. Competency education is both a core tenet in our student-centered framework and an area of increasing interest to practitioners and policymakers.
Over the coming months, we will continue to release this series of research syntheses and updates from the field that help build the foundational data, theory, and information needed to support effective implementation and policy for competency education. (Sign up to be sure to receive new research.) We encourage you to read and share this publication with others in the field. Here are five key takeaways from the recent report:
1. Competency education is one important part of a broader vision of education reform that places students at the center of their education experience.
Students at the Center has collected and published evidence and arguments concluding that students are more engaged, more motivated, and achieve better learning outcomes under four key conditions:
- Education is personalized to their needs
- They can advance upon mastery of clear learning targets
- They have a range of learning opportunities in and out of school
- They have voice, choice, and agency in their learning experiences.
The potential impacts of competency education are greatly enhanced when combined with the other three reform strategies. (more…)
October 30, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
CompetencyWorks released An International Study in Competency Education: Postcards from Abroad in October. You can access the archived webinar and additional resources here. We also just learned about the Common Ground Project based in Brussels, offering a slightly different way of framing competency education. (See Our Learning EcoSystem.)
Resources and Blogs
by Julia Freeland
Originally posed October 15, 2014 by the Christensen Institute.
Are new software platforms revving the engine of competency-based blended learning? This week, Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) released a comprehensive summary of Spark, a new platform built by the team at Matchbook Learning to help one of the schools it operates, Merit Prep, realize its goal of supporting blended and competency-based learning. The report looks at how Spark came about and where it may be headed in the coming years. The new tool is certainly exciting in and of itself, but it also reflects broader activity in the still relatively slim overlap of blended and competency-based approaches on the ground.
As I wrote about nearly a year ago, technology tools still lag some of the aspirations of competency-based and blended school systems. Yet Spark now joins a small but growing set of software programs designed to help competency-based schools that are using a variety of online learning programs to deliver blended instruction. Products like Project Foundry, Empower (by Educate), JumpRope, Engrade, and Buzz (powered by Agilix) orchestrate tasks like content delivery, assessment, and data dashboards in schools pursuing blended learning and competency-based education in various capacities. Other school systems are even turning to Salesforce for Education, which doesn’t offer the same real-time assessment data or online learning content delivery as those mentioned above, but does allow for individual scheduling and tracking of student information in a more competency-based manner.
All of these platforms are trying to tackle new challenges that educators face as they wade into the blended and competency-based spaces. Not only do blended learning educators want students to enjoy a seamless online learning experience, but they also want up-to-date information on how students are performing in online work to inform what they teach offline. And to make these blended learning experiences fit into a competency-based progression, educators also want to be able to track student mastery on an individual basis, and advance students to new or more challenging material when they prove ready. This means that a platform may need to deliver online assessment on an on-demand basis and to track individual student progress across standards and competencies. (more…)