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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Ways that States Are Beginning the Shift to Competency-Based Education

February 22, 2018 by

This is the seventeenth post in the blog series on the report, Quality and Equity by Design: Charting the Course for the Next Phase of Competency-Based Education.

There are many different entry points for policymakers wishing to enable the shift to a more personalized, competency-based K-12 education system in their state.

States that do not yet have any enabling policies in place may wish to take one or two incremental, initial steps to create space for new learning models, while a state that already has made some progress may be contemplating some bolder, more comprehensive steps toward transformation. We will not attempt to thoroughly discuss each entry point in this blog, however, we will highlight the promising policies most states are starting with in their journeys. The iNACOL report, Promising State Policies for Personalized Learning, goes into each of these policy levers, with examples of specific policies and practices that are active in different states.

The graphic below summarizes the different entry points that policymakers could discuss to catalyze transformation of K-12 education in their state, with varying levels of state leadership: (more…)

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iNACOL Symposium Request for Presentation Proposals for Competency-Based Education

February 21, 2018 by

This year, the iNACOL Symposium will be held on October 21-24, 2018 in Nashville, TN. This year’s theme is “Driving the Transformation of Learning.”

As we prepare for the upcoming Symposium, Chris Sturgis and I are discussing the “must have” workshops and sessions at the iNACOL Symposium for the track focused on competency-based education (CBE) to help advance the field in strategic ways. We’ve asked the CompetencyWorks Advisory Board for the must-have topics for the competency-based education track at the iNACOL Symposium event in October. (Note: please add your “must have” sessions in the comments section, below).

I wanted to share a few “must have” topics generated by the CompetencyWorks Advisory Board and ask if you are an expert on these topics to please submit a proposal to speak:

  • What is CBE?: Introductory sessions that draw from multiple districts and schools to highlight variations in how elements of CBE can be designed and implemented.
  • Higher Ed & CBE: The intersection between higher education and K-12 education has many interesting areas for partnership and alignment. This might include performance-based assessment, moderating performance levels, redefining student success through the Profile of a Graduate work, addressing the needs of college admissions and transcripts and other documentation of student learning.
  • CBE Models & Designs for Equity: Generate conversations to challenge and disrupt patterns of inequity and design innovative competency-based models for equity.
  • Leading Practitioners Using CBE Quality & Equity Frameworks: Drawing on the frameworks outlined in Quality and Equity by Design (forthcoming reports on each in April – June) from the National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education, discuss the ways these frameworks are actionable, use the frameworks to build shared understanding of CBE and highlight more granular aspects of design and implementation.
  • Communicating to Your Community about Competency Education: Developing authentic and ongoing conversations with the entire community is important. What are the most effective communication strategies and messages that resonate with different audiences?
  • Innovations: There are many innovations developing in districts across the country. The best way to share your innovations is to do so with colleagues from other schools so that Symposium participants can get a richer sense of what is possible.
  • Knowledge Building: Is there something you are interested in building more knowledge about? Create a session where participants can share experience, ideas and question. Build up knowledge and share it on the CompetencyWorks blog.

(more…)

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Redesigning Systems of Assessments for Student-Centered Learning

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This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 24, 2018.

Assessment is essential for understanding what students know and for providing transparency and fairness when it comes to certifying mastery of knowledge and skills. Assessment can provide timely feedback to educators on where students are in their learning and to inform the supports that they need to succeed. It also plays an important role for educational leaders to evaluate the effectiveness of learning models, on achievement and for policymakers to understand the effectiveness of policies and use of public funding. In redesigning systems of assessments, state policymakers should consider what is needed to make assessment more meaningful and integrally-linked to student learning.

The challenge ahead for policymakers is to rethink assessment policies to enable student-centered teaching and learning. This will require creating balanced systems of assessments to: (more…)

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Progressions? Trajectories? Continuum? Oh My!

February 20, 2018 by

Does anyone else get mixed up by the use of the phrases learning progressions, personalized pathways, learning objectives, trajectories, and learning continuum? I do.

They are all terms that try to convey in one way or another that learning is a continuous process that builds on prior knowledge, skills, and experiences. And they are used in all different ways throughout our field. As best I can tell, there are three concepts at play:

  1. The expectations for learning. (What do we want students to learn, and how are these organized over levels?)
  2. The research on how students move from one concept to another that can inform instruction.
  3. The actual way any one student learns and progresses, which is of course very important when trying to meet students where they are.

(more…)

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Sign on to the 10 Principles of Building a High Quality System of Assessments

February 16, 2018 by

Today, Jobs for the Future, iNACOL, and other national organizations released the report 10 Principles of Building a High Quality System of Assessments. The report lays out “a vision for systems focused on continuous improvement and the full array of knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed for each student to succeed beyond high school, in the workplace, and throughout life.”

Please note: This isn’t just any old report. It’s also a call for action. If you agree with the 10 principles highlighted below, think about adding your organization to the vision outlined in this report. (more…)

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Next Generation Learning Models for English Language Learners

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This post originally appeared at iNACOL on December 11, 2017. It is the first blog in a series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning

iNACOL’s recent report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning, provides an in-depth analysis of how new models in learning can be leveraged in service of English language learner (ELL) students. The report explores the early stages of innovation in new school models serving ELL students and provides recommendations and lessons learned to build knowledge in the field of K-12 education. A key purpose of the research for the paper is to examine new pathways that offer students multiple opportunities to prepare them for future success and explore ways that educators are personalizing learning using advanced technologies to support and serve ELL students’ unique needs. (more…)

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It’s Time to Submit Proposals to the CBE Strand at iNACOL

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iNACOL is now accepting Requests for Presentation Proposals to present at the iNACOL Symposium, held at the Nashville Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee on October 21-24, 2018. This year’s theme is: Driving the Transformation of LearningiNACOL’s annual conference is the premier learning conference for those driving the transformation of education systems and accelerating the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all. Experts, practitioners, educators, policymakers, researchers, and innovators gather and work to transform education.

To access the RFP and submit your proposal to present, please click hereThe deadline for submitting presentation proposals is Friday, March 16, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET. You can download the RFP questions in advance by clicking this link. The iNACOL Program Committee will notify applicants of proposal status no later than Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (more…)

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4 Threshold Concepts for Policy to Tackle in the Long Term to Support Competency Education

February 15, 2018 by

This is the sixteenth post in the blog series on the report, Quality and Equity by Design: Charting the Course for the Next Phase of Competency-Based Education.

What ideas does state policy need to address in the long-term to create the conditions for a transformation to competency-based education systems designed to ensure equity, so all students can be truly ready for success? We intend to push current thinking beyond the assumptions that perpetuate root causes of inequity and the structural issues that perpetuate injustice. We are focusing on a strategy for policy to support systems change over the long haul toward competency-based systems that ensure mastery for all students and equity for all. We hope to inspire new ideas and launch dialogue among communities and state policy leaders.

Threshold Concepts: Key Issues for Policy to Tackle for the Long-Term

Threshold concepts are important concepts for policymakers to understand so that they drive better policy and address structural gaps in our education system. Threshold concepts are “core concepts, that once understood, are needed to transform a given subject.” They can help us think differently about what is possible in an equitable future education system where all students succeed, and how to address deep-seated systems design flaws across K-12 education. Threshold concepts are not policy issues, but they deeply impact policy. In this blog, we discuss our thinking around the core, or threshold concepts, that state policymakers might think about addressing for a long-term, sustainable shift to personalized, competency-based learning.

Threshold concepts to understand before we address action steps for policy-making are: (more…)

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U.S. Department of Education Invites State Applications for a New Pilot on Innovative Systems of Assessments

February 14, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 8, 2018.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) created an Innovative Assessment Pilot and the much anticipated application was released last week by the United States Department of Education (USED). States can now apply for new flexibility they’ve been seeking to create innovative, next generation models of accountability and systems of assessments (with a smaller subset of districts in the state) since the passage of ESSA in 2015.

Innovative Assessment Pilot (ESSA Section 1204)

On January 3, the U.S. Department of Education released a Federal Register official notice inviting applications from states for the Innovative Accountability and Assessment Demonstration Authority. This is the “Innovative Assessment Pilot” and it is also a new opportunity in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for states to pilot new types of assessments. (more…)

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How Competency-Based Are You?

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A few weeks ago, someone approached me because the schools they were working with wanted to know if they were competency-based or not. This question seems to be popping up more frequently as competency-based education gains popularity. If the question is based on wanting to be part of the latest education innovation, it’s a problem. Simply declaring one’s school as competency-based doesn’t have much to do with anything if we aren’t actually providing a significantly better learning experience for students.

However, if that question is actually trying to ask Am I doing it right? then we really need as a field to be providing resources that allow districts, schools and teachers to self-assess and resources that allow them to see and engage in quality. In the meantime, I think a reframing of the question might be helpful: In what way are you competency-based and which ways aren’t you? To what degree has it been implemented across your school? And are students benefiting? And if not, why not – what’s missing or has to be done with greater quality? (more…)

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