Tag: student agency

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

June 2, 2017 by

What's new! star graphicSchool Designs

Grade Levels

  • New Hampshire is moving beyond grade levels and graded assessments through a new program called NG2 (no grades, no grades), with seven participating elementary schools.
  • Incoming freshmen at Windsor Locks (CT) will be the first class to graduate under a proficiency-based approach, which forgoes letter grades and asks students to demonstrate mastery of skills.

High School Transcripts

News

Updates in New Hampshire

  • A researcher found that students in PACE districts outperformed their peers in non-participating districts across the board, starting in the second year of the program’s implementation. But the her most notable finding? Special education students in PACE districts did basically as well as students who weren’t on special education plans.
  • Tom Raffio, former State Board of Education chairman, reflects on important changes in New Hampshire’s education system over the last ten years.
  • New Hampshire’s Parker-Varney school released an excellent case study, Putting Kids at the Center: Building Parker-Varney’s Future of Learning, which shares their vision and journey toward competency education.

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When Young People Had a Vote in Decisions about Their Own Programs

April 12, 2017 by

Although this reflection by AYPF’s Board Chair, Tony Sarmiento (first posted at AYPF on March 13, 2017), isn’t related to competency-based education, I think it is an extraordinary piece that allows us to learn from our elders to better respect our children and youth. As we open up what is possible in competency-based education with transparent continuums of learning, we also open up new doors to how we construct education. In re-posting this article, I’m not suggesting that we should run directly to created markets. I’m saying that we should look backwards and forwards to organize the very best of what we know works best for young people to engage, motivate, and support students. Listening to them and creating formal ways to guide them is always a strong first step.

Happy reading! – Chris

Tony Sarmiento, AYPF Board Chair

As I near retirement after working with older adults for nearly two decades, I was recently honored in a surprise reunion with former co-workers from almost fifty years ago, when we worked together at a neighborhood youth center in upper Northwest Washington, DC. While we shared hazy memories of dances, basketball games, and other typical summer youth center activities, all of us recalled fond and detailed memories of the youth center director, Pat McDonough, who in his late-20s hired, supervised, and inspired us. None of us had been in regular contact with Pat before his death a few years ago, but all of us acknowledged his lasting impact on our careers and lives.

The reunion reminded me of my employment during the War on Poverty as a youth worker in several of my home city’s neighborhoods. At that time, an official goal of the federal government’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) was to insure youth involvement in planning, operating, and evaluating youth programs. This was consistent with the larger goal of “maximum feasible participation” by the community in all OEO programs. As stated in an official OEO Instruction, “Youth Development Program Policies,” (February 1970):

Every Community Action Agency and Delegate Agency must insure active youth involvement in all phases of its Youth Development Program. Applications which do not reflect this commitment will not be funded. (as underlined in the original)]In the District of Columbia, this mandate for youth involvement was achieved by partitioning the city into twenty Neighborhood Planning Councils (NPCs), which were administered by then-Mayor Walter Washington’s Office of Youth Opportunity Services (OYOS). Each NPC was governed by ten adults and ten youth (between 14-21 years old) elected in community elections. Every year, each of the twenty councils was responsible for developing, debating, and voting on their community’s year-round youth programs and program budgets, based on funding made available by OYOS. OYOS also provided technical assistance to the councils and monitored their compliance with OEO regulations.

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What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

March 31, 2017 by

What's new! star graphicNews

  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded a $2.5 Million grant to Lindsay Unified School District and Summit Public Schools, called the California Consortium for Development and Dissemination of Personalized Learning (C2D2). By June 2019, they will develop an open source tool to clearly define personalized learning competencies for various personnel in the learning community. The tool will also identify systemic barriers that stand in the way of mastering these competencies and provide resources that support continuous improvement and development for the adults in learner-centered education.
  • Harvard’s Project Zero is studying how to teach for understanding and have found that when students have structures for thinking, better learning emerges.

Micro-Credentials for Teacher PD

Equity

School Designs

  • Red Bank Elementary, profiled by Education Reimagined here, is a leader in education transformation, designed around personalized, relevant, and contextualized pathways for each learner.
  • This USA Today article highlights how one Brooklyn school, Brooklyn Lab, is changing how students and teachers are taught. Brooklyn Lab is one of 10 to receive $10 million from the XQ: The Super School Project.
  • Washington’s Federal Way school board approved the use of a competency-based model for two alternative schools.

Student Agency & Voice

State Policy Updates

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Getting Results in Personalized Learning

March 29, 2017 by

Denver Public Schools has released Personalized Learning: A Journey through Year One, one of the more interesting reports on personalized learning that I’ve seen. Although DPS’s efforts to introduce personalized learning into their schools has not required a competency-based structure, at least one of the three schools – Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design (page 13) – has important elements of competency education in place.

The first thing to know is that DPS defined personalized learning as “a holistic approach to learning, teaching and school design” to support “the unique needs of diverse students and develop students’ personal agency so that every student succeeds.” DPS focuses on four personalized learning outcomes: student agency, social emotional engagement, 21st century skills, and academic outcomes. It is important to note that they have placed student agency deeply in the core of their approach. It is equally important to note that they did not start with technology as the driver for personalization. They started with approaching children holistically as the driver.

The research (turn to page 52 of the pdf report, where you an find the early evidence, findings, and implications) is organized around two sets of questions: one on impact and one establishing baseline data on conditions for implementation including school climate, teacher beliefs, and correlations with student academic success. I am so impressed with the richness of the analysis shared in this report, as it opens doors for an inquiry-based approach to improving our schools.

Here are a few examples: (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).

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

March 6, 2017 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.

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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

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How to Participate in the Meeting Students Where They Are Technical Advisory Group

February 10, 2017 by

Meeting Kids TAGCompetencyWorks will be holding a National Summit on Competency-Based Education in June to convene 100 leaders representing a range of perspectives, geography, expertise, and racial/ethnic diversity. Yet, there are thousands of leaders and educators across the country who have expertise in competency education who could make valuable contributions to these conversations. Thus, we have designed Technical Advisory Groups that will create a participatory process leading up to the Summit to draw on your knowledge and ideas.

The third Technical Advisory Group (TAG) is coming up soon: We will be focusing on Meeting Students Where They Are between February 27 and March 3, 2017. The Meeting Students Where They Are TAG is an opportunity to think about how students learn academic skills and content as well as how it varies by age, stages of development, and across domains. We know that any academic learning is also dependent on students developing a growth mindset, student agency, and social-emotional learning. We are delighted to announce that this Technical Advisory Group will be facilitated by Antonia Rudenstine, Dixie Bacallao, and Sydney Schaef from reDesign, an organization specifically committed to developing strategies, practices, and designs that help practitioners meet the needs of our most vulnerable students.

Our focusing question: (more…)

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