Tag: competency education, competency-based learning

New Zealand Leads the Way on Competency-Based Learning – Part 1

March 13, 2017 by

New ZealandThis post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 5, 2017. 

Research Underpinnings

New Zealand has been exploring future directions in competency-based learning and assessment for decades. The movement is grounded in social justice and equity. The principles of good practice which are the focus of the conversation today should realize that assessing competency in a situated learning setting is a balancing act and an activity of social learning via communities of practice while holding all students to the same high standards with articulated outcomes of what a student knows and can do with exemplars.

An important focus in New Zealand is the research underpinning competency-based learning on how students learn best:

  • Learning highlights skills that are transferable.
  • Learning is situated (Lave and Wenger: 1991; Vygotsky: 1978).
  • Learning occurs in the same context in which it is applied.
  • Learning is co-constructed in communities of practice.
  • Learning is co-operative and in a learner’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

Students work on mastery toward skills to be competent and there is an emphasis on peer-to-peer and social learning that empowers student agency. There is increasing interest in competency-based learning with an integrated approach to assessing learning. Sufficiency, timing and methods of assessment are examined in competency-based systems. Some students have control over how they are assessed (on set standards), assessments should be a meaningful part of the learning process and students (as well as assessors) are aware of exemplary work as a guide. (more…)

How to Participate in the Quality Technical Advisory Group

March 10, 2017 by

Well, we have successfully completed three of the Technical Advisory Groups (TAG) as part of the process leading up to the National Summit on Competency-Based Education. I think it is safe to say that crowd-sourcing ideas is great but that Google Docs has its limits as a platform. Thanks to all of you who have participated – the ideas being brought forth to the Summit are so much stronger than when we started.

This blog announces that the last Technical Advisory Group is on how we can and should think about quality of personalized, competency-based systems. We only have bits and pieces of research to help us think about quality, so we need to rely on practitioners knowledge to inform us. The TAG will run from Monday April 3 through April 7. For those of you who prefer to work on the weekends, the Google doc will be open starting April 1. We will have a phone call at 1 pm ET on Monday, April 3 for those of you who want an overview of the TAG process and introduction to the key ideas.

How to Participate

If you have one year experience in competency-based education (we don’t mean online learning; at CompetencyWorks, we focus on competency education as a school or district structure that replaces the traditional structure), we invite you to join the Quality Technical Advisory Group. Please note: These are not designed to support people just learning about competency education. We suggest that those of you who are new to the topic start by reading the case studies of districts and schools to get started. You will have an opportunity to learn from these conversations as the papers on each TAG prepared for the Summit will be made available in early June as well as the final reports post-Summit.

REGISTER for QualityTechnical Advisory Group here. (Remember, all the other TAGs are over, so there is no need to sign up for any other one.) (more…)

Learner-Centered Tip of the Week: Grouping is a Strategy, Not the Goal

by

DesksThis post originally appeared on Courtney Belolan’s website on January 31, 2016. Belolan is the instructional coach for RSU2 in Maine.

An essential component of learner centered proficiency based education is being able to meet learners at their particular readiness level in any area. Readiness level is another way of talking about the Zone of Proximal Development, the sweet spot of learning. In a personalized learning environment there should never be a moment when a learner is disengaged because they are being expected to work at a level that is either too hard or too easy. This is where flexible grouping comes in.

Flexible grouping creates the space for learners to work where they are ready, then move on. The groups are flexible, meaning that they do not have many fixed characteristics. Members of a group can change, the length of time a group meets for can change, when the group meets can change, and even who teaches the group can change. What is fixed about a flexible group, is the purpose. Once the purpose has been fulfilled, then the group dissolves.

At this point, I want to emphasize that flexible grouping is a strategy for personalizing learning. Flexible grouping is not a goal in itself. It never makes sense to group and regroup just for the sake of doing it. Flexible groups must have a purpose for being together, and the purpose will drive the rest of the “hows” about the group: how long, how often, how much, and even who. Here are some potential purposes for groups:

  1. To address individual learning targets
  2. To address a group, or series, of targets that fit together
  3. To explore an interest

The “flexible” in flexible grouping is extremely important. Once we form groups, and learners stay in those groups for an extended period of time without the ability to move on from the group, we’ve created a tracked system. We all know that tracking is not good for learners. Separating learners with different strengths prevents them from seeing, hearing, and trying out strategies and ideas of other learners. Grouping flexibly keeps the space for learners with different strengths to continue to be able to interact with each other. (more…)

New Emerson: Learning the Effective Practices of the Learner-Centered Classroom

March 9, 2017 by

New Emerson 1This article is the ninth in the Designing Performance-Based Learning at D51 series. A reminder: D51 uses the phrase performance-based learning or P-BL.

Can performance-based learning help an award-winning school get even better?

New Emerson Elementary, a lottery-based magnet school in District 51 in Colorado, was developed in the early 1990s. The original design of a very strong focus on literacy has now expanded to include science as well with a partnership with John McConnell Math and Science Center.

In 2015, the teachers voted to become one of the seven demonstration schools to begin the process of transformation to a personalized, performance-based system. The reason: To have learners take responsibility for their learning and to move away from the time-bound aspect of all learners learning at the same rate and the same time. The school has engaged parents and students in shaping a shared vision to guide their school: Together, through the building of positive relationships, our community strives to create self-directed, interdependent, empathic, and creative thinkers with growth mindset. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Gains Momentum

March 8, 2017 by

This post first appeared in the EDUCAUSE Transforming Higher Ed blog on Febuary 6, 2017.

We’re examining competency-based education (CBE), an approach that has been celebrated for its customization and modularized structure, enabling students to demonstrate mastery and move at their own pace through academic programs. Beyond its timing advantages, CBE also has been cited as a means of supporting student equity, and encouraging knowledge transfer—in order to sufficiently educate kids as well as adults for roles that are currently evolving, or perhaps those which have yet to be created.

While CBE remains somewhat nascent across K-12 districts and postsecondary institutions, it has gained a foothold and interest in it continues to grow across the United States.

I spoke with educators, academic experts and institutional leaders to learn more about the ways in which CBE is serving students of all ages, grades and skill levels, and to better understand existing collaborations or points of intersection between schools and academia.

The approach is currently bridging gaps between employers and aspiring college graduates; there appears to be significant potential for CBE to also positively impact younger students.

Embracing the Real World

Matthew Prineas, Vice Provost and Dean of The Undergraduate School at University of Maryland University College, agrees.

“The promise of competency-based methodology is its power to create new connections and seamless pathways between K12, higher education, and the workplace,” he said.

“At UMUC, we are developing competency-based learning experiences that connect the real-world skills employers are asking for with the intellectual abilities our students need for academic success. We believe that competency-based approaches are equally adaptable to the needs of our adult students, who are looking to connect their prior experience with a college credential and a profession, as they are for high school students, who need to develop the foundational skills and behaviors necessary for success in college and beyond.

The emphasis is, of course, on demonstrated mastery rather than rote memorization.

“By putting the focus on what students can do, not just what they know, competencies give us the means to construct learning experiences that are more relevant and engaging—and that is to the benefit of all students, wherever they are in their educational journey.” (more…)

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! All of You Planning on Attending iNACOL17

March 7, 2017 by

Hopefully iNACOL17 is on your calendar. It will be held at the Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida on October 23-25, 2017.

As I think most of you know, we organize a strand of sessions on competency-based education at the iNACOL Symposium. So we wanted to make sure you know that iNACOL has opened their process for submitting workshop and session proposals to present at the iNACOL Symposium. The deadline is Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Here are a few ideas of topics/questions that I think could be really helpful in creating a strand that would meet the needs of people based on different levels of experience:

  • What is Competency-Based Education? It would be great to have a session that is an open conversation to help people really new to CBE make the paradigm shift, ask questions, and learn about different models. We always need to make sure there is a 101 session.
  • Personalized Learning Coaching: In most districts, there is anywhere from one to ten people who take on the role of personalized learning coach to help teachers build the new practices. I think it would be wonderful if there was a session that was created for personalized learning coaches to talk about their work, share practices, and perhaps build some shared knowledge (job descriptions, options for offering personalized learning modules for teachers to learn about personalized learning in a CBE school, etc.).
  • Creating a Unified Set of Equity Strategies: We know that there are sub-groups of students who have been historically underserved as well as groups of students who may be marginalized in schools (for example, Muslims or LGBT students). If we want to make sure that all students benefit from personalized approaches, districts need to make sure there is capacity to provide proven strategies designed to address learning needs of students. What if there were a session to accumulate and integrate these strategies? (This idea has developed in the Equity Technical Advisory Group but needs more work to build out.)
  • Student Agency: It’s becoming more and more clear that student agency, in addition to intentionality and transparency in CBE schools, is a really powerful and important change. We need to build knowledge on 1) the different ways that schools are structuring themselves, 2) the processes used for classroom management, and 3) how schools are taking advantage of student agency to create more opportunities for cultural responsiveness, lifelong learning skills and other important features of learning.
  • The Policy Horizon: It’s really hard to think outside the box of any given policy context. But we can’t get what we need unless we can envision it. Is there a way to take examples of policies from different states to begin to build out a more comprehensive understanding of what we need for policy to support and sustain personalized, CBE?
  • Innovations at the Margin: There are some schools and districts pushing on what CBE can do to explore very different approaches. We have Young Women’s Leadership Academy’s design of ten skills driving learning; Building 21’s dual credit system; and using continuums rather than grade level standards to open up opportunities for students in Waukesha and Kettle-Moraine. I think we are ready to start looking across these models to think about what they tell us about what is possible.
  • Telling the Information System Vendors What We Need: The vendors of information management/student information systems that monitor learning are failing us badly. (What I hear is that they say there isn’t a market. Well  they may want to read Clayton Christensen’s work. Because they are going to lose the market to the first one who can support personalized, competency-based systems.) Let’s talk about what we really need for these systems to do, build agreement, and then figure out how to engage them. This could require two steps – one part might be to look at each other’s systems currently in use to see how they are designed and how they might be better. This would allow us to create a short article on strengths and weakness of each model and publicize it. Second, we could then put together the core functions we need – and maybe we could start doing a survey or petition to show the number of schools that want this functionality.

These are just a couple of ideas. I’m hoping our network has gotten strong enough that people can find each other to help think about sessions that are building on knowledge in multiple schools and districts. I’m also thinking that it might be possible to use iNACOL17 as a place of building knowledge as well as sharing it.

We are going to have a leadership forum as a pre-conference session for anyone with one or more year experience to spend some time working through more challenging issues together. So plan on coming for October 23 if you have 1+ years experience in competency education (And newbies we’ll make sure there are valuable opportunities for you as well).

One Good Question with Susan Patrick: How Can We Build Trust in Our Education System?

March 6, 2017 by
Susan Patrick

Susan Patrick

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on December 16, 2016 and One Good Question on December 6, 2016.

In what ways do our investments in education reveal our beliefs about the next generation’s role in the world?

There’s a big difference in how you would fund the education system if you were building for the longer term – you would invest in building capacity and trust. We need to take a very honest look at our investments. If people and relationships matter, we need to be building our own sense of inquiry. That’s not at odds with innovation investments. We should be about innovation with equity. That way, we can change our own perspectives while we build new solutions.

The debate about top-down reform vs. bottom-up innovation is tied to the same trust issues. In Finland, they made an effort to go towards a trust based model and it meant investing in educator capacity so that the systems trust educators to make the best decisions in real-time. If we don’t start investing in trust, we can’t get anywhere.

When US educators visit other countries, we tend to look for silver bullet programs from the highest-performing countries. What are we missing in that search?  

During my Eisenhower Fellowship, I was able to meet with teams from OECD and UNESCO that gave me great perspective. UNESCO has just published an Education 2030 outlook presenting their global education development agenda that looks at the whole child. Their goals are broad enough to include developing nations who aren’t yet educating 100% of their population. When we read through the goals and indicators, the US could learn a lot from having our current narrow focus on academics. Our current education structure is not going to lead us to provide a better society. Are we even intending to build a better society for the future? We’re not asking the big questions. We’re asking if students can read and do math on grade level in grades 3-8. In Canada, they ask if a student has yet met or exceeded expectations. If not, what are we doing to get them there? You don’t just keep moving and allow our kids to have gaps.

The UNESCO report specifies measures about access to quality education. Is there gender equality? Is there equity? They define equity as:

Equity in education is the means to achieving equality. It intends to provide the best opportunities for all students to achieve their full potential and act to address instances of disadvantage which restrict educational achievement. It involves special treatment/action taken to reverse the historical and social disadvantages that prevent learners from accessing and benefiting from education on equal grounds. Equity measures are not fair per se but are implemented to ensure fairness and equality of outcome. (UNESCO 2015)

Across the global landscape of education systems, there is a diversity of governance from top-down to bottom-up regarding system control, school autonomy and self-regulation and how this impacts processes and policies for quality assurance, evaluation and assessments. It is important to realize the top-down and bottom-up dynamics are often a function of levels of trust combined with transparency for data and doing what is best for all kids. In the US, let’s face it, our policy conversations around equity are driven by a historical trend of a massive achievement gap. Said another way, there is a huge lack of trust from the federal government toward states, from states to districts and even down to schools and classrooms. We ask, “How do we trust that we’re advancing equity in our schools?’” (more…)

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

by

What's new! star graphicSchool Designs

  • Colorado’s District 51 is moving to “engage, equip and empower” students and engaging its community members in its shift toward performance-based learning. (Learn more about D51 in a recent blog series by Chris Sturgis.)
  • McComb School District is producing students empowered to change the world. Its Kennedy Early Childhood Center accelerates the development of knowledge, skills and dispositions; uses competency-based progressions; learning is socially embedded; and children have open-walled opportunities to learn.
  • A new STEM-focused micro-school is planning to open its doors in Decatur, Georgia in August 2017.
  • New Hampshire’s Pittsfield Middle High School is using competency-based, student-centered learning approaches to combat bullying.
  • The UP Education Network in Massachusetts is using tailored supports to better serve students with disabilities and English language learners.
  • New Hampshire’s Manchester School of Technology uses academics to support career training, and uses competency-based structures to ensure student success.

Student Agency

Blogs from the Field

  • New Profit is publishing an #AdvanceEquity blog series to promote new dialogue on equity and inclusion. You can find 30+ blogs in this series here.
  • Where and how does competency education align in K-12 and higher education? This blog post reflects on emerging and established areas.
  • This KnowlegeWorks blog highlights the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (Indiana), their journey towards competency education, and key takeaways.

Policy

  • KnowledgeWorks released ESSA and Personalized Learning: State by State, which is an interactive map and state-by-state analysis of state strategies to advance personalized learning. This resource highlights emerging ideas states are considering as they leverage flexibilities in their state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • Rhode Island’s Office of Innovation released the Statewide Personalized Learning Initiative, outlining a plan to scale personalized learning statewide.
  • Here are top education issues to watch during the 2017 Utah Legislature, including competency education.
  • The Idaho legislature allocated $1 million to support the implementation of mastery-based systems of education.
  • A bill in Utah, SB34, would allow schools to keep funding when students graduate early, intended to benefit competency-based schools and reward schools when students complete graduation requirements ahead of schedule.
  • Thirty-two schools in 19 Idaho incubator programs are currently using mastery education as part of H110, which passed both chambers and was signed by Governor Otter in March 2015.

(more…)

An Addition for Your Library on Competency Education

March 4, 2017 by

Lindsay Unified School District has released their book Beyond Reform: Systemic Shifts Toward Personalized Learning. If you are contemplating moving toward a personalized, competency-based (Lindsay uses the term performance-based) system, you’ll want to take a look at this book. Many educators have been making their way to visit Lindsay, but not everyone has the time or can afford the travel. This book covers the basics of how Lindsay decided to move beyond the traditional system designed for sorting to one that is designed to help students learn.

You’ll find chapters on preparing for change, creating a new culture, leadership, supporting educators, and transforming teaching and learning. The book provides a strong overview on each. However be prepared to be a bit frustrated. It’s a overview, not a handbook. You’ll be left hungry for tools, details, and examples. My understanding is that with grants from Race to the Top and private foundations, Lindsay will share artifacts of their system.

I know there is a lot of frustration in the field that although Lindsay has been generous in opening up their doors, it remains somewhat difficult to get a deeper understanding of how it all works. Remember, they have been under construction (and most competency-based schools with a commitment to continuous improvement will always say that) – and their first and foremost duty is to get their performance-based system as strong as it can be on behalf of their students and community. Lindsay is building capacity to support other districts, but we should never rely on other districts to become technical assistance providers. Their students will always come first! (more…)

Pioneering the New Way of Learning: Learner Agency and Opportunity

March 3, 2017 by
(Pictured Here: GripTape Youth Leadership Board. Photographed by Kimani Calliste.)

(Pictured Here: GripTape Youth Leadership Board. Photographed by Kimani Calliste.)

This article was originally posted at iNACOL on January 31, 2017.  We share this article as it provides an in-depth model for thinking about how to build learner agency.

Testing the Ingredients to Learner Agency Success… Through Learners

We are members of GripTape’s Youth Leadership Board which is composed of youth in high school and college who have set out on a journey to change the view of education for youth everywhere. Through weekly video conferences, new ideas are created, content is contributed, and there is an endless amount of support. The Board was created a little over a year ago, and has already created so much for youth learners throughout the nation. It will be exciting to see what can be accomplished within the next year and years to come.

Being able to serve as members on this Board hasn’t only given us the chance to exercise and develop our leadership skills, but also the chance to discover why it is so powerful. Every single member on our Board has a unique talent to share and a unique question they aim to find the answer to. Each of us are on our own individual journeys as to assure that we never cease the learning process ourselves. And the ways each of us go about doing so is tied into the unique skillset we each bring to every meeting.

Understanding Motives and Inspirations

Griptape is focused around the goal of placing young learners in the path of other potential learners to build an extensive network of learners. That is the premise of our work: providing awareness to youth of their untapped potential to learn anything that they want. This process has taken much time and collaboration between organizations, professionals, youth, and a pretty awesome youth-led Board. With all this creativity, knowledge, and experience, a guideline was put together to encompass all the aspects which essentially help “facilitate the emergence of learner agency.” The following ideas were put together on what is believed to be factors in enabling and maintaining productive and positive learner agency. Then this framework was looked over once and look over some more and probably will continue to be reviewed and revised in the future. The idea behind the framework is that learner agency first begins internally with the learners own set of beliefs and ambitions, then can be demonstrated depending on the learner’s external influences and relative practices that eventually shape their experience and environment. Knowing what can motivate and inspire youth to pursue learning outside of the classroom, once broken down, is actually not all that difficult. The greatest challenge presented with learner agency is getting the message to every young person around the world that they are actually capable of learning anything they want to!

Framework Components/Subcomponents

(more…)

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