Author: Lillian Pace

ESSA Represents an Historic Opportunity to Advance Personalized Learning

March 24, 2016 by

ESSAI have great news. After fifteen years of operating under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), we finally have the chance to say goodbye to one-size-fits-all assessments, accountability systems that mask achievement gaps, and autopsy-style school improvement strategies. While there were some good things about NCLB, the law also created a long list of policy barriers that made it impossible to build and scale personalized learning environments. The newly-enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), on the other hand, eliminates almost every one of those barriers, gifting the personalized learning community with an historic opportunity to transform the education system.

While enactment of ESSA marks an exciting turn of events, we cannot celebrate until we do the hard work of helping states identify and leverage these opportunities. To this end, KnowledgeWorks recently released a side-by-side tool entitled New Opportunities to Advance Personalized Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This tool provides a brief overview of each opportunity in the law along with a description of how it compares to policies in NCLB and the Obama Administration’s NLCB waiver package. Our hope is that states knit together these opportunities into a comprehensive and compelling vision for teaching and learning that meets students where they are and provides them with customized supports to ensure their success.

Here is a quick overview of KnowledgeWorks’ top ten opportunities in ESSA to advance personalized learning. (more…)

A Victory for Competency-Based Education

January 23, 2015 by

Senator Alexander

To all of the competency education visionaries working in state governments, districts, and classrooms around the country, last week was an important week for you. After years of running up against federal time-based policy barriers, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Lamar Alexander (R–TN), released a discussion draft for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that put your work front and center.

Competency education finally has a place at the negotiating table of Congress.

Senator Alexander’s discussion draft proposes two policy changes that would advance the K-12 competency education movement.

The draft proposes two assessment options:

  1. Maintain the current law by requiring statewide testing annually in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school.
  2. Establish a state-defined option where states could develop an assessment system that may include any combination of annual statewide summative assessments, grade span assessments, and competency-based performance assessments. (more…)

Systems Change – Five New England States at a Time

May 13, 2013 by

This post was originally published by Knowledgeworks on April 30, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 2.06.49 PMA truly remarkable education transformation is underway in five New England states – CT, ME, NH, RI, and VT – inspired by the idea that every child can graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge to succeed in life. This transformation – called proficiency-based learning (aka: competency, mastery, or standards-based) – flips the education system on its head, providing multiple pathways, extra time, and intensive supports for a truly customized learning experience.

I was fortunate to experience this transformation first hand last week, thanks to an impressive tour led by the Great Schools Partnership. This organization is impacting every level of the system: from the grassroots coaching partnerships they have with schools and districts throughout the region to the high-level systems change conversations they lead as the coordinator for the New England Secondary Schools Consortium (NESSC). My big take-away from the tour is this: These leaders have the right vision for learning and an incredibly talented team of experts to help make that vision a reality. (more…)

The Tough Question: What is the Federal Role in Competency Education?

May 6, 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 7.10.40 PMOver the past few years we have seen a groundswell of interest and adoption of competency based models for learning. At least 40 states have one or more school districts implementing one of these models and a growing number of states have begun serious conversations about how to redesign their system to ensure students have the extra time, multiple pathways, and supports they need to master content and skills. But despite this paradigm shift, a major road block lies ahead: federal K-12 policy.

At KnowledgeWorks, we have decided to dive head first into this challenge. Last week, we released our first policy brief on competency education titled: An Emerging Federal Role for Competency Education. Our goal is to help policymakers understand the elements of federal law that make it difficult for states to redesign their systems to support competency education at scale.

Here are the accountability barriers we identified in the paper: (more…)

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