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Author: Susan Gentz

From Compliance to Continuous Improvement: Accountability, Assessments and Next Generation Workforce with ESSA

June 30, 2016 by

KidsThis post originally appeared at iNACOL on June 7, 2016.

There is an incredible window of opportunity for state policymakers with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). States now have the flexibility to engage in conversations with local communities to reimagine the future of education and redefine what student success looks like.  What do we want our students to know and be able to do in the 21st century? How can we rethink preparation programs to ensure our educators have the skills and competencies for next generation learning models?

How do we create policy alignment and support for student-centered learning? Student-centered, personalized learning requires assessments for learning that are meaningful to students and educators alike in providing real-time feedback on a student’s progress toward mastery of learning goals.  Educators assess evidence of student work for demonstrating knowledge, skills and competency is key to competency-based pathways.  Summative assessments now can be broken into smaller units and offered as interim assessments to validate student learning and provide a quality control.  Combinations of performance assessments, computer adaptive testing, formative assessment and these interim assessments will help frame new systems of assessments to support building capacity in sync with educators’ and students’ needs.

With ESSA passage, states and localities are rethinking how accountability can ensure quality, equity and excellence — and examining how systems of assessments will support continuous improvement.  This includes a new role of states for building capacity and creating space for innovation through more student-centered aligned accountability with multiple measures and exploring new designs for certification and licensure through different models of teacher prep (such as with stacked micro-credentials) to equip the next generation of educators. (more…)

Florida and Utah Look to Support Districts through Competency-Based Education Pilots

April 11, 2016 by

USThis post originally appeared at iNACOL on March 29, 2016. 

Recently, iNACOL published a piece on competency-based education pilots and how they can help support personalized, competency-based environments for students and teachers. Two states, Florida and Utah, considered pilot bills this session. Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, signed the bill into law on March 25, 2016, and Utah’s Governor, Gary Herbert, signed the bill into law on March 28, 2016.

States create competency-based education pilots to help launch small-scale, short-term programs that localities use to determine how a larger program might work in practice and go to scale. While innovations in schools are taking hold across states, state policymakers are seeking to help support and foster educators. Pilots support collaboration to help bring together practitioners and educators to share lessons learned, while addressing the changes needed in instructional methods. Pilot programs are one way to connect and support innovators to plan, implement and ultimately scale high-quality competency-based education practices and systems.

Pilot programs provide an entry point for school leaders and educators to get started–combined with the needed flexibility and funding–to design new personalized models to ensure every student is successful through competency-based pathways.

Legislation

Utah’s bill, SB 143, creates the Competency-Based Education Grants Program consisting of grants to improve educational outcomes in public schools. Utah plans to do this by advancing student mastery of concepts and skills through the following core principles, established in the five-part definition of competency-based education by iNACOL and CompetencyWorks:

  • Student advancement upon demonstrated mastery of a concept or skill;
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, and transferable learning objectives that empower a student;
  • Assessment is meaningful and provides a positive learning experience for a student;
  • Timely, differentiated support based on a student’s individual learning needs; and
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

The grant program incentivizes a Local Education Agency (LEA) to establish competency-based education within the LEA through the use of: (more…)

Competency-Based Education Task Forces: A State Policy Mechanism to Foster Personalized Learning by Creating Dialog, Surfacing Barriers and Providing Solutions

April 4, 2016 by

Conference TableThis post originally appeared at iNACOL on March 23, 2016.

Transitioning from a traditional seat time based system to a competency-based learning system often requires changes at multiple layers in policies from the school level to the state-level. State policy makers can provide thought leadership in their states by creating a space for dialog between policy makers, stakeholders and communities across the state by establishing a formal statewide task force for competency-based education (CBE). A CBE task force brings together a group of experts and stakeholders to examine the issue in depth, to consider needs in policy and practice, and to provide recommendations and next steps in a state.

States (generally legislators through sponsoring legislation) establish task forces for the purpose of studying policy issues related to CBE. The needs and issues will vary state-to-state because of the differences in educational statutes, regulations and capacity, but CBE task forces offer a future-focused approach by providing a safe space to identify barriers, needs, and consider options to best enable competency-based pathways.

Why CBE Task Forces are Important

An education task force convenes to study a specific topic. During this time, a task force often engages with educators and experts on best practices and policies regarding the topic of the task force.

Establishing a CBE task force allows the members to study CBE policies and practices. CBE task forces enable CBE by encouraging state leaders to develop a deeper understanding on the need for and the benefits of creating competency-based pathways to ensure student success and the importance for educators to personalize learning to meet students’ needs. The CBE task force will interview educators from competency-based education systems, learn what policies are supportive and which are barriers, identify educator capacity needs, evaluate system capacity and provide recommendations for getting started with aligning systems to support CBE. (more…)

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