CompetencyWorks is an online resource dedicated to providing information and knowledge about competency education in the K-12 education system. Drawing on lessons learned by innovators and early adopters, CompetencyWorks shares original research, knowledge and a variety of perspectives through an informative blog with practitioner knowledge, policy advancements, papers on emerging issues and a wiki with resources curated from across the field. CompetencyWorks also offers a blog on competency education in higher education so that the sectors can learn from each other and begin to align systems across K-12, higher education and the workplace.

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Competency Frameworks

May 22, 2018 by

At one point in my journey of understanding about competency-based education, I questioned whether we really needed competencies. Wasn’t it okay just to have standards? Paul Leather helped me understand the value of competencies by asking What would the system look like if we had a blank slate? Would we really want standards to be the defining way to think about expectations for students? (more…)

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Key Findings: Science of Learning and Development

May 21, 2018 by

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Although the high level findings of the science of learning often seem like common sense, the interplay between the different domains of research isn’t as simple. And we know that the education system is full of practices that are not only misaligned with the science of learning – they may actually be inhibiting and, for some students, even harmful. I’ve read two papers that support Turnaround for Children’s Building Blocks for Learning recently: (more…)

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Learner-Centered Tip of the Week: Yes They Can

May 18, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at the Learner Centered Practices Blog on April 30, 2018. Belolan is the instructional coach for RSU2 in Maine.

Do you remember hearing, perhaps back in your teacher prep program, about the study where a teacher was given a group of Special Ed students but was told that they were Gifted and Talented students, and then the learners performed at the same level as the Gifted and Talented learners would? Well, it is a thing. And it is real. (more…)

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How One New Hampshire District is Leveraging Success Skills in a Competency-Based System

May 17, 2018 by

Sarah Kiley

By Jonathan G. Vander Els, Director of Innovative Projects for the New Hampshire Learning Initiative and Sarah Kiley, Epping School District Teacher and Work Study Practices Coordinator.

New Hampshire Overview:

Over the past three years, a number of New Hampshire schools have been focusing on how the integration of success skills (or Work Study Practices, as they’re called in New Hampshire) can be levers for students’ success. The intent was to intentionally integrate these deeper learning competencies into instruction, assessment, and curriculum to increase student agency as a lever for equity. (more…)

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The Code of Culture: Establishing Purpose in Competency-Based Schools (Part 3)

May 16, 2018 by

This is the third and final article in an exploration of how to create a culture of learning, inclusivity, and empowerment based on the book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. Start the series here.

The implementation strategies used by many of the districts and schools converting to competency education begin with a process of shared inquiry and building a shared purpose. Most leaders will emphasize that it is critically important to fully engage the community in the process of establishing a shared purpose. (See Implementing Competency Education in K-12 Systems: Insights from Local Leaders.) (more…)

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The Culture Code: Turning Connection into Cooperation in Competency-Based Schools (Part 2)

May 15, 2018 by

This is the second part of a three-part series on creating a culture of learning, inclusivity, and empowerment that are important principles for equity and quality of competency-based systems. Start the series here.

Once you have created a culture of safety, how does a leader draw on that to create a high performing team?

In exploring the second skill of Sharing Vulnerability, Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code, describes cohesive teams with “moments of fluid, trusting cooperation.” Drawing on examples from Pixar and the Navy Seals, Coyle describes attributes of high performing teams that I don’t think I have ever seen in a district, school, or organization advancing competency-based education. These are teams that have evolved to be able to endure directness and candidness at very high levels. They can tolerate, and actually value, the vulnerability of facing up to and owning mistakes, weaknesses, and poor performance. (more…)

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The Culture Code: Creating a Culture for Competency-Based Schools (Part 1)

May 14, 2018 by

Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs, Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year, a collaborative process of practitioners developed a description of what every student should experience in a personalized, competency-based school (See What Will Students Experience in a Competency-Based School?) The second item in this list of ten is:

I feel safe and am willing to put forward my best effort to take on challenging knowledge and skills because I have a deep sense of belonging, feel that my culture, the culture of my community and my voice is valued, and see on a daily basis that everyone in the school is committed to my learning.

I’ve been thinking a lot and talking to people a lot about what it means to have everyone, students and adults, feel safe and that they belong. The learning sciences inform us that one can’t separate out cognition from emotion: Feeling safe is an important condition for anyone to make themselves vulnerable to seek and accept help, take risks, and put out extra effort knowing that they might fail. This is one of the reasons that has convinced me that culture is critical and that the school and classroom culture needed to make competency education work is substantially different than that described as the culture needed for high achieving traditional schools. In fact, creating a culture of learning, inclusivity, and empowerment is identified as a principle for equity as well as quality.

I stumbled upon a book, The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle that has been eye- and heart-opening about what it takes to create a culture of safety. It’s a super quick read but I’ll highlight the core messages of the book here for you. His thesis is that high-performing culture can be created through three skills: 1) Building Safety; 2) Sharing Vulnerability; and 3) Establishing Purpose. (more…)

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Talking about Race (and Mastery): Part 2

May 12, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Mastery Collaborative on April 25, 2018. Read the first post here.

In our last post about takeaways from trainings with Border Crossers and the Mastery Collaborative team about race, racism, and mastery, we shared members’ ideas about equity issues in traditional grading. In this post, we share participants’ ideas about how race can play out in our classroom dynamics in inequitable ways, and how we can plan for more just, and equitable, and effective facilitation moves. (more…)

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What’s New

May 11, 2018 by

Math, writing, and executive function! Learn about the search for new breakthroughs in The Gates Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Want Your Ideas On The Future Of Education.

US Department of Education is highlighting personalized learning in the Education Innovation and Research grants.

Must Read: I’ve just read the following two papers and think they are must reads! We all need to know the research on learning sciences. Seriously, everyone in the education field, from a person designing a new application to the U.S. Secretary of Education, needs to dive into the learning sciences if they haven’t already. Two relatively recent papers are really helpful as they summarize the research across fields:

These aren’t simple papers, so I suggest engaging colleagues to read and discuss the sections of the papers that relate the most directly to you and your work. We need similar papers that summarize what we know about instruction in each of the content areas, as well.

What’s Happening in the States

Local media is a great way to get a sense of what is going on in a region. It’s a clue that grading has been introduced too early when there are letters to the editor in support of A-F grading. (more…)

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What if Educational Policy Was Shaped by the Learning Sciences? (Part 2)

May 10, 2018 by

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Continuing from the first part of this topic on the implications of the learning sciences for policy, let’s start by looking at three research findings. This is my first cut on this topic and early exploration. In fact I would call these ideas half-baked but I have to start somewhere. It would be a fun collaborative project to draw on lots of great minds. (FYI: I apologize that this is a bit general. To get specific, I’d have to put it in the context of the specifics of policies in a given state.)

Learning is an activity that is carried out by the learner.

(more…)

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