March 13, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
Gary Chapin just forwarded me the announcement that the Maine Department of Education’s Center for Best Practice has compiled a Glossary of Proficiency-Based Education in Maine to help educators navigate the shift toward proficiency-based/learner-centered education. The lack of consistency in language is one of the major problems that educators face when implementing such a system. One district’s “standards-based” may be another district’s “proficiency-based” or “competency-based” or “standards-referenced.” One district’s “standard” may be another district’s “performance indicator” or “learning target.”
This glossary was designed specifically for inclusion in the Technical Assistance Plan required by LD 1422. It is not intended to be exhaustive or comprehensive. It is intended to be useful to districts working to implement the proficiency-based diploma.
If your state is creating common language or glossary could you let us know at CompetencyWorks!
February 28, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
District and school leaders constantly tell me that there is very little in federal and state policy that prevents them from implementing the most important elements of competency education…even in a policy context dominated by the Carnegie unit. They also emphasize that if state policy was more aligned with competency education and student learning they would be able to do so much more and see much greater achievement gains.
We’ve tried to capture what states are doing in aligning the policy infrastructure in the just-released Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education.
One of the most interesting a-ha’s in researching, interviewing and writing the paper was that when we are talking about policy its not just passing major legislation. It’s as much a process of creating a culture of learning from the top-down and the ground up, opening up innovation space, providing support systems for educators to learn from each other and apply their learning in their districts and schools, and then reworking critical policies such as graduation requirements (competencies, not time-based credits), flexibility in the use of time (years to graduation, yearly and daily school schedules, embedded supports), and redesigning assessments and accountability systems to meet the needs of students, not policymakers.
We are working to enhance the wiki so that it is easy for advocates and policymakers to access examples and strategies being used by states. We would deeply appreciate it if you could send us any information about how your state is aligning policies so that we can make sure that we have the best information available. Yep, that’s crowd-sourcing for educational transformation. It will make a huge difference.
February 5, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
From MCSD website
The following is the testimony from Andrea Stewart, Gifted and Talented Coordinator for Muscatine Community Schools and member of the State’s Competency-based Education Task Force at the Iowa State Legislature last month. It is a powerful statement as it demonstrates that competency education can be valuable for students in gifted/talented programs as well as those who are struggling to catch up.
We are here, not because we have perfected a system of learning for our students, but because we have with us student voices to share how their learning is changing in our pilot CBE classrooms this year. Muscatine is an innovative district supported by bold leaders who recognize that our students’ needs can no longer be met by our antiquated system and that the time for an educational paradigm shift is now. Through deliberate and ongoing engineering, our district is piloting competency-based education in 14 classrooms because it removes the barriers of time and place from our students’ educational experiences—two of the most intractable elements in our schools today. By focusing on the core competencies of each course instead of on the Carnegie unit, our educators have combined fidelity to the Iowa Core with enduring concepts and depths of knowledge that allow students to demonstrate their learning in refreshing, personalized ways. CBE benefits struggling learners who need additional time to master concepts, content, or skills, learners who have graduation requirement deficits, students who are ready to learn anytime, anywhere, gifted and talented learners who progress at ages younger or rates faster than their chronological peers, teachers who are looking for ways to more effectively differentiate the learning taking place both in and out of their classrooms, and administrators who are looking for real-time data and school-wide patterns. (more…)
January 29, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
“CBE allows me to be teacher that I always knew that I could be and that I should be. It’s allowed me to be a facilitator. Students are now coming to me as a resource rather than as the source of information.” That is what Muscatine High School language arts teacher Chanda Hassett told Iowa’s State Legislative panel about competency-based education.
As reported in an article Competency based education draws rave reviews in Iowa House hearing by Jason Noble in the Des Moines Register website, both teachers and students were enthusiastic about their competency-based pilot. (If you haven’t read it, here Elizabeth Sturm’s student at Muscatine’s reflection on competency education)
I hear the students were incredibly powerful speakers with great insight into competency education.
Halie Osborn, a junior at Muscatine High School testified, “I have a lot of friends in college at this point and they’ve all told me that freshman year is the worst because they don’t know how to study. CBE has taught me how to study.”
It’s reported that Chanda Hasset said she “can’t go back” to teaching the old way. Does this mean that competency education is going to take hold and never let go?
January 16, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
In addition to Iowa, two other states are releasing reports regarding how their states can move forward (I’ll add the links as soon as I can):
Awarding Credit to Support Student Learning: A Report to the Governor recommends how Pennsylvania can develop credit flexibility. It outlines parameters and principles of a credit flexibility policy to be managed at the local level. There are some interesting building blocks in Pennsylvania including Keystone exams that are required end-of course exams in high school. Competency education doesn’t require end-of-course exams but it is certainly one way to maintain quality control. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is researching an alternative flex-credit program for CTE.
The Kentucky Department of Education is releasing Competency-based Education: Helping All Kentucky Students Succeed. Kentucky, part of the Innovation Lab Network supported by the Council of Chief State School Officers, convened more than 150 multi-sector participants. The report explores why competency education is valuable, highlights districts and schools moving in the direction towards competency-based models, and responds to all those frequently asked questions (a great resources for any other state or district preparing materials).
Both of these states were part of the National Governors Association’s initiative on Awarding Credit to Support Student Learning with the support of the Mott Foundation.
January 15, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
Sandra Dop, Iowa Dept of Education
Iowa’s Competency-based Instruction Task Force has released its preliminary report. State leadership in Iowa has been calling for competency education for over three years. This engaging report provides recommendations for how the state should move forward. With a meeting being organized in June, momentum is building in Iowa.
One of the questions that comes over and over again are what are the ways we should be thinking about the metrics that could be helpful in guiding implementation and benchmarking districts and schools. It’s a tough question and needs a thoughtful approach. The Iowa report starts to give a glimpse at some of these process and outputs as it reviews the findings from researchers that visited the two districts charging forth on competency education, Spirit Lake and Muscatine (see Elizabeth Sturm’s post, a senior at Muscatine High).
In Muscatine researchers looked at grades, the distribution of students based on where they were on learning progressions (remediation, intensive interventions, and acceleration) and opinions of teachers.
The district and community were increasingly concerned about a graduation rate that fluctuated below the state average. Following implementation of the pilot projects, zero percent of students earned Ds or Fs in competency-based education classrooms, compared to 38 percent of all students in the 2011-12 school year. Additional data points expand the positive impact of competency-based education:
- Six percent of the students engaged in learning contracts or short-term remediation to reach proficiency prior to the end of a term;
- Four percent of the students needed intensive remediation, which required additional time beyond the term;
- Three percent of the students were able to accelerate their learning through content or a course;
- Teacher support for the methodology was rated at 85 percent, as evidenced through a district-wide survey following building presentations in the fall of 2012. (more…)
January 1, 2013 by Chris Sturgis
Artemio Paz, Jr
Chair, OR State Board of Education
Diane Smith from Oregon’s Business Education Compact forwarded to me the Student Achievement, Grading and Reporting policy passed in December by the Oregon State Board of Education and scheduled to take effect July 1. This is a great example of rulemaking by forward-thinking state education leaders.
The policy is chock-full of interesting ideas with powerful implications. Diane pointed out two major implications:
- Parents will be informed whether or not their child is proficient in grade-level standards.
- It institutionalizes the competency-based practice of maintaining academic performance reported separately from behavior factors.
A couple of others jump out as well:
- Students will have multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery of academic content standards.
- Districts must respond to students who have not met or have exceeded the academic content standards with access to additional services and other public school or alternative educational options.
In addition to this policy advancing Oregon’s proficiency-based efforts, it looks like a very powerful policy tool for parent advocates to demand that their children get the help they need right now – not by retaining students but getting them the help they need right now.
The policy is included below. (more…)
November 1, 2012 by Chris Sturgis
Lt. Governor Abramson
Earlier this week, people across the state of Kentucky convened for a Summit on Competency Education sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education and the National Governors association. I thought it was worth pulling out how they defined competency education as it both succinct and reinforces the relationship with student-centered and personalized learning:
Competency-based education is a method that focuses on mastering specific skills or standards rather than completing course work over a specific period of time. It offers opportunities for all students and is student-centered. This type of education features personalized learning, which takes different learning styles into account by providing different avenues to learn the same content.
Competency-based education can motivate passive students who do not learn well in traditional classrooms because they do not see the curriculum as relevant to their needs. Students can earn college credit while still in high school, and they learn how to learn, a skill they need throughout life.
Topics at the Summit included the role of expanded learning opportunities, the role of career pathways to accelerate student learning towards college and career readiness and higher education. Scheduled speakers included:
- Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson
- State Senator Jimmy Higdon
- Rose Colby, author of Off the Clock
- Paul Leather, New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner of Education
- Tom Shelton, superintendent of the Fayette County school district
- Lu Young, superintendent of the Jessamine County school district
- Jay K. Box, chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System
- Robert L. King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
- Elizabeth Grant, chief of staff in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education
- Michael Cohen, president of Achieve
We’d love to hear more about the Summit and next steps for Kentucky! Or if you want to get a sense you can read the twitter feed.
July 6, 2012 by Chris Sturgis
David Domenici at the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings has been visiting state juvenile justice leaders this spring exploring how they are providing educational services in youth detention facilities. He has been identifying barriers to ensuring young people who are in the juvenile justice system have access to education, an absolutely critical component for reducing recidivism. In last month’s newsletter he describes the time-based Carnegie unit’s “especially pernicious impact of this framework on young people in the juvenile justice system, who are older and significantly credit deficient.”
In this month’s newsletter David goes on to highlight two challenges young people face when they are transitioning back from secure settings: (more…)