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…)
by Stephanie Krauss
This past summer I got the chance to enter into the world of competency-based higher education. I knew embarrassingly little about this part of the field even though I previously founded a competency-based high school (more here). Over the past few months, I have been inspired by and had my eyes opened to this vibrant body of work.
In higher education, there is a rapidly growing group of leaders and educators who care deeply about education equity and the learning needs and outcomes of their students. To me, they seem to be radical and boundary-pushing. These are my kind of people—I presume they are yours too.
Over the next few months, I hope to share many of their stories with you. In this storytelling, I think that you will come to find what I have: camaraderie, lessons and challenges to your thinking about this work and the reasons why we do it. I have also decided to stay involved on the higher education side of the work – I think that they can really benefit from the stories and ideas and the lessons that we in K-12 have learned along the way. (more…)
October 6, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
Coming up soon: CompetencyWorks is releasing a report A Study in Competency Education: Postcards from Abroad with a webinar on October 14th at 1 pm ET. Register here.
And here’s a peek at what’s new in competency education. Scroll down for information on higher education.
- The New England Secondary School Consortium is calling for oroposals from NE schools to present at the 6th Annual High School Redesign in Action Conference, March 26-27, 2015. Proposals must involve the sharing of practices that are aligned with personalized learning and the NESSC’s Global Best Practices. If you’re interested in presenting at this year’s conference, visit our website for further details and guidelines. Proposals must be submitted by October 27, 2014.
October 3, 2014 by Randy Peters
In our work with school administrators who are leading innovative standards or competency-based initiatives, we are often reminded by our PK-12 colleagues that they (and their stakeholders) tend to view colleges and universities as hindrances or barriers to implementation rather than partners. In light of this feedback and our own experiences in the profession, we have felt compelled to explore some standards/competency-based strategies in our program area at Drake University. It has been a gradual process, informed by the inclusion of reform strategies that we’ve begun teaching in our education leadership classes and, later, explored in our research, and attempted in varying degrees in our own pedagogy, as well.
First, we began advocating with our grad students/aspiring administrators for the development of professional learning communities, such as those described by DuFour and Marzano in their book, Leaders of Learning (although we’ve felt that any movement toward a more collaborative, empowered, and shared leadership model would be an improvement over what has been in place historically). In introducing this model, the basic professional learning community questions (What is it we want our students to know? How will we know if they are learning? How will we respond when they aren’t learning? How will we enrich/extend learning for students who are proficient?) led to some conclusions that have greatly influenced our practice. (more…)
August 13, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
There are so many great resources coming out this summer!I haven’t even had time to watch and read everything….but wanted to make sure you all know about them.
Statewide Transformation: First, a big shout out to New Hampshire for sharing their learning. They’ve created a web page New Hampshire’s Story of Transformation complete with videos so you can hear from their leadership and innovators directly. It’s a great resource that explores how they think about student engagement, how they are providing support to educators, and the history of their process towards competency-based education. You can also hear from Paul Leather as he provides a synopsis of the state’s approach.
State and District Updates:
August 11, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
The word is tossed around these days, and I always have to think about why disruption is good for students, especially those that are underserved, rather than the companies that are grabbing a piece of the market through a new product or service.
In summarizing the new paper by Michelle R. Weise and Clayton Christensen, Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution, Michael Horn writes in his blog Move over MOOCs, it’s online, competency time:
As they argue, online, competency-based schools represent the right learning model—focused on actual mastery of knowledge, skills, and dispositions—with the right technology of online learning, targeted at the right customers—non-consumers who are over-served by the value proposition that traditional colleges and universities offer and searching for a new value proposition from college aligned around workforce needs—paired with the right business model that is low cost, low-priced, and sustainable. (more…)
August 6, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
Leaders in higher education and K12 should take the time to read Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution by Michelle R. Weise and Clayton M. Christensen of the Christensen Institute. The paper explores how online, competency-based programs are disruptive to higher education. The paper is an easy way to get on top of the issue, including a great introduction to disruptive innovation, inefficiencies in the traditional system, and the basics of online, competency-based programs. Don’t skip the appendices – you’ll find a quick summary of public policy and descriptions of higher education innovators.
The authors argue that the combination of online learning and competency education – modularization and mastery – is where the real power for disruption lies by offering a new business model:
The vanguard of online competency-based learning providers is developing technology to ensure that time is truly the variable factor and learning is fixed: Assessments are built into the system to ensure students’ proficiency; students can take assessments as many times as necessary until they have mastered the competency; and instructors can rely on an analytics dashboard and cater to students’ needs like a personalized tutor when necessary. (more…)
July 21, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
Here’s more news about competency education. Please notice we are starting to cover higher education a bit more as we know that many readers come to our website looking for information. Also, please know that if we include any information about products and services it is only to help you have a sense of what’s happening, not an endorsement of any kind.
Talking About Competency Education
- As described in redefinED, Sal Khan spoke at the National Charter School Conference, highlighting what would would happen if we built a house in the same way we educate children. He ended by saying, “There’s always been this tension when you have standards, when you have high-stakes exams and all that, where, gee, maybe the standards are good, but does it end up teaching to the test? Does it somehow end up taking creativity away from the classroom? The idea is that if teachers can feel good, if their students finish the mission and they’re getting reports on where all the students are, they don’t have to go into that mode, and it will hopefully liberate more class time to do more Socratic dialogue, to do more projects, to do more inquiry.” (If you haven’t read The One World School House it’s a fun and easy read – just perfect for summertime reading lists)
Competency Education Included in Reports and Recommendations
- Nellie Mae Education Foundation (the foundation that took the lead in establishing CompetencyWorks) has released a reference guide Putting Students at the Center that defines the four tenets of student-centered learning: personalized learning, anytime/anywhere learning, student-owned learning and competency-based learning. Competency education is described as: “Students move ahead based primarily on demonstrating key learning milestones along the pathto mastery of core competencies and bodies of knowledge (as defined in deeper learning). Tasks and learning units might be either individual or collective; and students have multiple means andopportunities to demonstrate mastery through performance-based and other assessments. Eachstudent is assured of the scaffolding and differentiated support needed to keep progressing at apace appropriate to reaching college and career and civic outcomes, even when unequal resourcesare required to achieve a more equitable result.
- The Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet released a report Learner at the Center of a Networked World. Recommendation 1, Action Step B is “Support pilots for new competency-based learning approaches that recognize knowledge, skills and competencies achieved in or outside of schools.” In their post on the release of the report, Jeb Bush and Rosario Dawson write, “Students must have access to interoperable learning networks that allow them to earn credit for what they have learned regardless of where they learned it — whether from a museum, a library, an after-school program, a massive open online course (MOOC), or in the classroom. In these competency-based models of learning, what you know is more important than where you go. These credits should be recognized by schools and institutions of higher education as well.”
- Southern Regional Education Board included Competency-based Learning in its 10 Critical Issues in Educational Technology. A word of caution — the way it is written it suggests that using technology will help you develop competency-based environments. However, using technology doesn’t mean a school is competency-based.
- Inside Higher Education reports that “The U.S. House education committee on Thursday advanced a package of legislation that would boost federal support of competency-based education, overhaul how cost information and other data is provided to prospective college students, and require more counseling for federal student loan borrowers.” H.R. 3136, Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2014 “would reserve $1 million from funding for the Department of Education to authorize the Secretary to select up to 20 eligible entities to participate in demonstration projects related to competency-based education. Competency-based education focuses on measuring student achievement through an assessment of a student’s knowledge and skills rather than by the completion of clock or credit hours.”