Author: Chris Sturgis

What Lessons Are We Learning from Maine

November 5, 2018 by

The people of Maine have been reflecting and re-setting strategies regarding proficiency-based learning since this summer when the state legislature took a step back and said that districts could return to traditional systems and diplomas or continue on the path of modernizing their education systems with proficiency-based learning.

National public reflection has begun about lessons learned from Maine’s pathway toward proficiency-based learning for other states. However, the variety of tone and framing will certainly influence the lessons that we learn. Those who write about schools are creating a narrative that stretches from “uphill battle” to “roll-back” to “failure.”

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Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #3: Nurture a Culture of Learning and Inclusivity

November 2, 2018 by

This is the fourth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #3 Nurture a Culture of Learning and Inclusivity on page 41. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

We made a mistake in the first few years of CompetencyWorks. We simply underestimated the importance of culture – the underlying values, beliefs, rituals, and relationships that shape an organization or community – in making the transition to a competency-based system. Many schools and districts are making the same mistake when they focus on the structural or technical changes without first paying attention to culture. In fact, I’d throw out the hypothesis that the districts that couldn’t figure out how to implement proficiency-based learning well in Maine and advocated to terminate the policy of proficiency-based diplomas never took the time to adjust their school culture. (more…)

October 2018 CompetencyWorks Catch-Up

November 1, 2018 by

Here are the highlights from October 2018 on CompetencyWorks. Happy reading. And let us know if you have questions you want us to delve into!

CASE STUDIES AND SITE VISITS

Aotearoa New Zealand

Mill River Unified Union School District

 

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What’s New in Competency Education

October 31, 2018 by

Reports and Resources

CompetencyWorks released Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education, a new book offering guidance on ensuring high-quality learning environments as more schools and districts transform to competency-based education systems. It’s long. So you might want to wait until iNACOL offers it as a physical book you can order.  

Lindsay Unified School District, Summit Public Schools, and Transcend have released  Instructional Look Fors, Site Level Conditions and Faculty and Leadership Mindsets. (more…)

CBE Problems of Practice: Late Work

October 29, 2018 by

This is the sixth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendancepace, individualized learning, and granularity.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

6. Removing all consequences for late work. Much like the issue of attendance, learning what level and amount of effort is required to complete something and time management are important aspects of learning. Some schools have jumped to removing all consequences for late work, thereby supporting the idea that it isn’t important to be timely. This is a misstep in implementation that has placed unacceptable levels of burden on teachers who receive all assignments at the end of the year. Again, as schools separate out behaviors from grading academic progress, it is important to replace it with something else. Habits of success such as time management and lifelong learning skills such as self-regulation are critically important for academic success. These need to be emphasized and reflected upon in terms of their impact on student progress. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #2: Commit to Equity

October 25, 2018 by

This is the third article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #2 Commit to Equity on page 37. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

The pursuit of quality and the pursuit of equity have a reciprocal and reinforcing relationship. Honestly, I don’t know how you do one without the other. Although people and schools turn to competency-based education for many reasons, creating a more equitable system is inherent in what it means to create a competency-based system. We are trying to design a system in which success is the only option.

It helps to understand why the traditional system needs to change. Our understanding continues to deepen about how the traditional system undermines efforts of schools to create more equitable achievement. (more…)

Building Our Assessment Literacy

October 23, 2018 by

This is the fifth book in the series Conversations with Authors About Competency-Based Education.

I have never been a teacher. Thus, I don’t write very much about instruction and assessment as my knowledge base is about the size of a raindrop compared to the sea of knowledge that teachers tap into every day. I simply don’t have enough knowledge to know where to focus or the types of questions to ask.

However, my knowledge has been growing over the past two years as I ask every educator I can, “How do you meet students where they are? How do you make sure they are progressing and gaps are being repaired?” My little raindrop became a small puddle of knowledge after reading Using Formative Assessment To Enhance Learning, Achievement, And Academic Self-Regulation by Heidi L. Andrade and Margaret Heritage (recommended to me by Paul Leather).

We talk a lot about how we need to build our assessment literacy among schools, districts, national organizations, and policymakers. We aren’t going to get beyond the age-based summative accountability policies without deeper knowledge that can feed our imaginations of what might be possible. This book will certainly help…and it is super easy to read even for someone who doesn’t have background in teaching. The elegantly composed vignettes bring the ideas to life. The discussion in the book raises core concepts, describing what they are as well as problems of practice that wouldn’t be as beneficial to students. (more…)

CBE Problems of Practice: Granularity on Advance Upon Mastery is Too Small

October 22, 2018 by

This is the fifth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendance, pace, and individualized learning.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

5. Demanding that students demonstrate achievement on every small standard. We’ve heard of situations in which schools are holding students back from more advanced studies due to not learning very small and inconsequential skills or knowledge. Parents are legitimately asking about the value of some learning standards that were designed with coverage in mind, but are now being used for student level accountability in a competency-based system. In (more…)

Competency Education Quality Principle #1: Purpose-Driven

October 19, 2018 by

This is the second article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #1 Purpose-Driven on page 31. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

What does it mean to be purpose-driven?

For those who use design thinking, it means clarifying the point from which you backward plan. We have to know where we want to get in order to design the school and learning experiences that will get you there. (more…)

Competency Education at iNACOL18

October 18, 2018 by

Are you heading to Nashville? Here is a sampling of sessions on competency-based education (and there are definitely a lot of other great ones to choose from!). If you aren’t going, this can give you a sense of how the field is moving along, show you the knowledge that is being developed, and highlight possible people for you to contact along the way if you need a thought partner. I’ve added some links to sessions led by people with experience making the transition in schools and districts – you’ll get even more out of the sessions if you do some pre-reads about their districts. (FYI – some of the great CBE sessions are tagged as personalized learning.)

Where Not to Start When Implementing Personalized Competency-Based Education: Learning from Our Mistakes and Understanding the Steps for Success with Doug Finn, Marzano Research Lab

Sometimes you wish there was a reset button on implementing personalized, competency-based education (PCBE). Implementation of PCBE follows a certain framework, which we will review, but the specific details for each school or district can be extremely unique.

Performance-Based Education in the Last Frontier: Chugach School District’s Journey in Meeting the Needs of All Students with Mike Hanley and Deborah Treece from Chugach School District

The transformation of an educational system from one of the lowest performing in the state, to exceeding state results in spite of the challenges of poverty, transportation, and extreme geographic locations: Chugach School District’s Performance-Based Education Model began in 1994 to support student success. From PK-12 one-building sites, to meeting the needs of homeschool students and families throughout Alaska, Chugach School District’s continuous improvement cycle incorporates the ongoing journey of student ownership and success in life. (more…)

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