April 25, 2015 by Chris Sturgis
Does your high school offer Advanced Placement or IB tests? If so, you may be participating in a form of competency-based education in the higher education sector.
In his The Landscape of Competency-Based Education: Enrollments, Demographics and Affordability, Robert Kelchen includes AP and IB as a form of Prior Learning Assessment. Kelchen breaks down higher education competency-based education into two forms:
- Well-established prior learning assessments (PLA), which grant credits for content a student has previously mastered; and
- Newer competency-based coursework, where students progress toward a degree as they demonstrate mastery of new academic content.
I want to emphasize that these two forms apply to higher education. In K12, we are seeing the phrase competency education apply to everything from self-paced online curriculum to the full structural changes as advanced here at CompetencyWorks, which are designed to correct the low achievement and inequity of the traditional time-based system. We don’t think about giving credits to kindergartners who already know how to count to fifty when they enter school, instead focusing on where they are on a very long progression and making sure they are learning in their “zone” (as in, the zone of proximal development). (more…)
March 23, 2015 by Chris Sturgis
When asked if Arizona is moving to competency education, I’ve never been quite sure how to reply. It’s home to Carpe Diem, one of the earliest models of a school integrating personalized learning, a competency-based structure, and blended learning. In terms of state leadership, it developed the Grand Canyon diploma, a state policy designed for students to advance when they are ready based on passing an examination in secondary school. However, even though the Grand Canyon diploma does create a gateway by using an examination to determine proficiency, there is nothing that assumes that schools will actually be competency-based.
Something is brewing in Arizona to take the next step to supporting districts and schools to become competency-based. Although it appears there won’t be any more action by the state legislature this year, it is worth considering the elements of a bill that creates innovation space for schools. The bill requires the Board of Education to create a process to approve of competency-based innovation pilot programs if they have outlined their plans academically and financially to better meet students’ needs. Approved pilot programs are able to operate for an initial five years, after which a review process must occur. (more…)
October 14, 2014 by Stephanie Krauss
Last June, I had the chance to co-present on competency-based education (CBE) with Charla Long, dean of Lipscomb University. Lipscomb is nationally recognized for its pioneering work in competency-based higher education, and Charla has been the star of that work. In our presentation, we each shared about the opportunities and challenges that we have faced building and running competency-based programs – her in higher education and me in K-12.
Charla and I did not talk about our presentation with each other beforehand. So, we were both amazed when almost 50 similarities emerged between her experience and my own.
Here are just 10 of the nearly 50 ways that we found our CBE experiences in K-12 and higher education to be the same:
- We find that CBE permits us to focus on student learning and outcomes and operate from the belief that CBE is the best way to equip students with the skills they need personally and professionally.
- We find that the CBE experience works best when it is customized and personalized around student needs, interests and future plans.
- We have seen key technologies (like blended and online learning programs) help actualize and enhance CBE, but we do think that CBE can exist without these technologies.
- We have come to believe that CBE is a better way to organize schooling and learning and that it addresses both “excellence” and “equity” issues, in part by providing a quality education to all students, even those who struggle in traditional schools. (more…)