Tag: assessment

Schools and Software: What’s Now and What’s Next

June 27, 2014 by
This post originally appeared June 17, 2014 on EdSurge.

Alex Hernandez

Alex Hernandez

 
“We’ve basically run our public schools off of [Microsoft] Excel for the last 20 years. But all that is changing…”  – IT Manager–

The strategic use of software by public schools is shifting from a “nice-to-have” to a core driver of student achievement and organizational performance. Schools are deploying software to communicate with families, recruit and onboard teachers, create digital learning environments and much more.

In the new report Schools and Software: What’s Now and What’s Next, Julia Freeland from the Clayton Christensen Institute and I analyze how thirty small- to medium-sized public school systems on the cutting edge of technology integration are using software–and, more importantly, what they want from the edtech industry.

Here are five lessons we learned from these early adopters.

1. School systems “Frankenstein” multiple software products together for students, teachers and administrators

Most K–12 software programs offer limited value to school systems on a stand-alone basis and must be integrated with other software (typically from different vendors) to realize their full potential. (more…)

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

June 9, 2014 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…)

Thoughts on Grain Size

May 27, 2014 by
david ruff

David Ruff

As schools across the country engage with and implement proficiency-based learning, one of the first steps educators are taking is to

identify the skills, knowledge, and dispositions students should know and be able to demonstrate in order to either progress in their learning or graduate from the K-12 system. Certainly, there are significant resources for this, including state standards, the Common Core, and various other national sets of standards. However, few of these resources are shaped to best support instructional and organizational implementation of proficiency-based learning.

First off, we need to clarify the different uses of standards within curriculum, assessment, and student level accountability.  There are many standards that can help teachers shape the learning experience in the classroom—the actual curriculum that is enacted. Many of these standards are worthy of being assessed, formatively and/or summatively. However, only a handful are worth using for student-level accountability. Essentially, what standards will we require students to demonstrate in order to graduate? (more…)

Three Steps for Personalizing Assessment

May 26, 2014 by

Why do we always assess students at the same time and let that be the governing factor for student achievement?timing

Andrew Miller, a faculty member at Buck Institute and ASCD, explores this issue in  Personalizing Assessment with Time in Mind:

 We know that students each learn at their own pace. Some take longer; some take a shorter amount of time. We have the same high expectations for our students, but we also know students take different amounts of time to get to those high expectations. One critical element of personalization is that time is no longer the driving factor. Instead of relying on the Carnegie unit, students show mastery and are assessed when they are ready. Granted, so many outside forces are demanding our time, but how might we move past them to meet students were they are in the assessment process?

Here are Andrew’s three steps for how you can start to create systems of assessments that enable you to further personalize the learning experience for students: (more…)

Little Boxes: Common Assessments in the Age of Competency Education

May 8, 2014 by
little boxes

From Wikimedia Commons

I am a sucker for quality hip hop music and the art of sampling. There is something to be said about the rebirth of something into a new generation’s culture that allows the passing of the torch. Nothing can beat the opportunity to interpret the emotion and drive of the original artist’s rendition of a song and the context of the newer creation and compare how they used the same materials to paint, often times, two totally different pictures.

Personally, my respect for the art form of sampling allows me to see both sides of the coin. As I dig through old records at flea markets and basement shops or find those rare segments on YouTube, I gain a look into a time and place much different from now. I begin to appreciate the use of the same language and instruments to create scales and emotion that on the surface are quite different, but once dug into are, more times than not, closely related.

Not too long ago, I stumbled upon this little gem, Little Boxes. Some of you may recognize it from the Showtime hit show Weeds, but long before that, it was a folk jingle written and performed by Malvina Reynolds, describing an assembly line attitude toward life that involves cookie cutter education and living in “little houses made of ticky-tacky.” In listening to it, I found myself comparing the older version and the newer version that runs during the opening credits to the show. (more…)

Education Innovation Fellowship: Key Learnings from Some of Detroit’s Competency-Based Learning Models

May 7, 2014 by
Posted on April 29, 2014 @ blendmylearning.com.
detroit learning-fellows

The CityBridge-NewSchools Education Innovation Fellows for 2014.

For the past four months, the 19 public and public charter school teachers in the CityBridge-NewSchools Education Innovation Fellowship have engaged in an in-depth study of the most promising practices in blended and personalized learning, traveling the country and hearing from the leaders in the field. Recently, the fellows spent part of their spring break on a whirlwind tour of four public schools in Detroit that are budding laboratories in personalized learning.

Educators in Detroit’s public school system face a tough reality: Detroit Public School students are last in the nation among urban students proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and fifty-seven percent of Detroit children under the age of 17 live in poverty. Many public schools in Detroit are addressing this reality by measuring academic credit over mastery of specific competencies (also known as “competency-based learning,”) as opposed to the traditional practice of fulfilling seat-time hours. In all four public schools we visited, teachers leveraged competency-based learning models to meet the needs of their students, many of whom are years behind where they need to be academically.

How do teachers keep kids on pace after abolishing the traditional nine-month pacing guide? How do they challenge all students, and give them the freedom to work at their own pace? The key is to foster a strong sense of ownership in student work. Below you will find my key takeaways about how to make that happen: (more…)

Counted or not, doing what counts in competency-based education

April 29, 2014 by
Eduardo Briceño

Eduardo Briceño

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
- William Bruce Cameron (and on a sign hanging in Albert Einstein’s office)

Competency-based education comes with the risk that we focus only on those competencies that can easily be measured and overlook other competencies that are also critical for success in today’s and tomorrow’s world. If we’re mindful of what students need and design our competency-based systems accordingly, however, we can make competency-based education all it can be.

How we can get into trouble

In a competency-based system, each learner focuses on knowledge and skills at the right challenge level, just beyond what is known, and progresses to the next level upon mastery rather than based on age or time. This makes a lot of sense. It’s how people learn. (more…)

Don’t Miss These Webinars

April 10, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 9.16.23 AMThere are more and more webinars coming up on proficiency-based or competency-based learning. We list them on Upcoming Events to the right of our web page — but just in case you missed them here they are:

How Competency-Based Education is Transforming Assessment and Accountability Systems in Schools Thursday, April 10, 2014, 3:00-4:00 PM ET

The final webinar in iNACOL’s  CCSSO Innovation Lab Network Webinar Series will feature Carmen Coleman, Danville School District, Kentucky  and Erica Stofanak (one of our contributing authors) Curriculum Instruction & Assessment Coach, Rochester School District, New Hampshire who will discuss measures for tracking student progress and growth, the various formative and summative assessments systems that are now in place, measuring teacher effectiveness, and the variety of reports utilized by administrators and teachers to indicate progress towards common goals. Various assessment tools will be shared that can be modified and utilized in other schools and districts with a similar vision.

Understanding Grading in Competency-based Schools Thursday, April 24, 2014, 2:00-3:00 PM ET

In this CompetencyWorks webinar Abbie Forbus and Brett Grimm from Lindsay Unified School District in California, will share Lindsay’s grading practices.  Lindsay Unified, a Race to the Top winner, has a strong personalized, performance-based system and well-developed grading system that emphasizes providing feedback to learners. Forbus and Grimm will provide an overview of the values and educational philosophy that guides Lindsay’s grading policy.  Then going into more depth, they will present the structure, practices, and reporting mechanisms. During this webinar you will learn how their information management system enables teachers, students and families to monitor student learning and progress along their learning progression. The final segment of the webinar will offer a discussion on implementation challenges and emerging issues.

Proficiency- & Competency-based Learning: Emerging Research on Implementation and Outcomes. May 5 12:30 – 2 ET.

Sponsored by REL-NEI, this webinar will explore emerging research on proficiency-based learning and its implications for practice in states, districts, and schools.  Jennifer Steele at RAND Corporation and Erika Stump at the University of Southern Maine’s Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation will present findings from their newly published studies.

Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified: Supporting Students with Disabilities May 21  3-4 ET

In this Great Schools Partnership webinar Angela Hardy, Senior Associate, Great Schools Partnership
Jon Ingram , Senior Associate, Great Schools Partnership, Shannon Shanning, Special Education Teacher, and Bruce M. Whittier Middle School, Poland, ME will  address the role of Individual Educations Plans in a proficiency-based system, including the development of appropriate modifications to ensure that students with disabilities achieve proficiency.

Five Quick Thoughts About Accountability

February 13, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 2.23.47 PMThere is a flurry of conversations about federal accountability policy and assessment going on around the country. You may have heard about it described as accountability 3.0. I had the opportunity to participate in one of the conversations last week and just finished listening to the conversation led by Maria Worthen, iNACOL and Lillian Pace, KnowledgeWorks held today based on their report  A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change. And I’m feeling inspired to jot down a couple of my thoughts:

1. Federal policy must NOT mandate competency education.  We want it to enable competency education and eliminate any elements that inhibit it.  Federal policy can even catalyze it.  But at this point in time, federal policy should not expect everyone to do it. There are several reasons for this. First, any top down, bureaucratic approaches are just inconsistent with the student-centered, do what it takes, spirit of continuous improvement that is essential to personalized, competency-based schools. Second, we don’t have enough research and evaluation to tell us about quality implementation or what we need to ensure that special populations and struggling students benefit.  We just aren’t ready yet.

2. Assessment comes before accountability.  It’s almost impossible to untangle accountability from assessment in today’s policy context.  That’s because the accountability system has required states to have a specific type of assessment system.  This is a huge problem because assessment should be focused on helping students to learn.  Instead we see it as part of the accountability system. I know this is too simple… and all the accountability and assessment experts out there might dismiss this. But I just don’t think we can go where we want to go if we start with the requirements of today’s accountability system driving learning. So I think we need to define what is really important for systems of assessments and then draw from that what might be valuable for any type of accountability system.  Let’s keep our priorities straight by focusing on assessment and accountability not accountability and assessment. (more…)

Is Mastery a 3 or a 4 or Something Far Beyond That?

December 17, 2013 by
Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.55.12 PM

Grant Wiggins

We hear the critique of competency education occasionally as a linear, rigid, boring process of students learning and testing, learning and testing. We also hear the concern about classroom instruction and software products that declare students proficient because they have done recall or basic skills. Certainly, we know that schools across the country are challenged by the higher expectations of the Common Core to upgrade instruction and assessments so that students can actually engage in learning at higher levels of learning (or some would say deeper).

In the EL essay How Good is Good Enough, Grant Wiggins takes on these issues, calling for us to “recalibrate” our understanding of mastery so that we can ensure students can apply the whole concept and not just the “bits.”

In the essay, Grant Wiggins proposes this definition of mastery: Mastery is the effective transfer of learning into an authentic and worthy performance. Students have mastered a subject when they are fluent, even creative, in using their knowledge, skills, and understanding in key performance challenges and contexts at the heart of that subject, as measured against valid and high standards.

But of course standards can vary. Wiggins argues that we must recalibrate our schools to external standards. He goes as far as to say that schools that don’t are not standards-based. That’s a big challenge to schools around the country saying that they are doing standards-referenced or standards-based grading. (more…)

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