Category: Equity

When Equity and Student-Centered Learning Go Hand in Hand

October 18, 2018 by

I spent two days at the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative meeting last week. Kudos to the Student at the Center team for integrating equity and student-centered learning so deeply that they were one and the same. I’ll share three highlights of the meeting:

First, Eric Toshalis opened up the meeting with an acknowledgement that the meeting was taking place on lands that were originally those of Native Americans and that we were there without permission. After my trip to Aotearoa New Zealand, I have become a firm believer that we can build much stronger cultures of inclusivity if we are in a process of reconciliation and healing. I hold the greatest respect for Eric and JFF in launching the meeting in this way. (For those of you who are interested, this resource on how to honor native land can be helpful.) (more…)

Student-Centered Learning and Inclusion: Getting the Details Right

June 7, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Education Week on March 29, 2018.

Will student-centered learning be a real long-term driver for equity and inclusion? As with so much in education reform, the devil is in the details. (more…)

Meeting Students on Their Own Cultural Turf

May 30, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on April 7, 2018.

As teachers, we are hardwired to look favorably upon students who remind us of ourselves. It is healthy to reflect on this for a moment, as this is something that most teachers have rarely paused to consider. For this reason, Columbia University Associate Professor Chris Emdin’s New York Times bestselling book For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’a’ll Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education may cause unease in some readers. His argument is that it is within this place of discomfort that real transformation occurs. (more…)

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…)

Talking about Race (and Mastery)

April 25, 2018 by

This post and all images originally appeared at Mastery Collaborative on March 20, 2018.

A crucial aspect of being in the MC community is to explore, as a community of public schools, connections between culturally responsive education (CRE) and mastery (also known as competency-based education, or CBE). In our second year as a program, an MC working group from across our member schools began to dive in and identify connections between CRE and CBE: transparency, changing power dynamics, and positive learning identity. (more…)

Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed

April 5, 2018 by

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

Today, iNACOL and CompetencyWorks released Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed. With the help of Katherine Casey, we revised the earlier paper on equity developed for the 2017 National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education. Our thinking developed substantially based on the conversations at the Summit, and this paper will hopefully be of use to educators making the transition to competency education. Here are a couple of things I want to highlight: (more…)

Charting the Course for the Next Phase of Competency-Based Education: Strengthening Understanding

March 1, 2018 by

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

It is up to us, to all of us who believe in and are implementing competency education, to take on the issues of equity, quality, meeting students where they are and ensuring that policy is fit for purpose. This blog series has explored each of the four issues that are paramount to address in order for competency education to fulfill its promise to provide and sustain a better educational system for our next generation. Piecemeal design, poor implementation, turning our backs on the practices that we know will provide greater equity, failing to respond to the needs of students, and continuing to rely on outdated policy structures will result in competency education fading away except for a few shining district examples and a collection of innovative school models. These are not issues for other people to do — but for everyone within their roles, organizations and networks to actively pursue to deepen our knowledge and develop collective responses.

Below are a number of ideas for action steps that can be taken to advance our knowledge and effectiveness in these issues. Some of these are action steps that iNACOL and CompetencyWorks will take on; others are initiatives for other organizations to consider or require substantial collaboration. Please consider these action steps as a starting point for discussion and not a finite list. Certainly, there are many ways to undertake these action steps in ways that build on the values of competency education and strategically engage other partners. For example, there are ways to put into practice the ideas below that will either build a diverse leadership or continue to emphasize white privilege. It is up to all of us to overcome the historical patterns of race and racism in the United States — in our professional lives, in our communities and in our schools. (more…)

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. (more…)

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…)

Why True Equity in Learning Depends on Proactive, Not Reactive, Design

February 12, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at the Christensen Institute on January 25, 2018.

Innovation isn’t an outcome; it’s a process. How we approach that process will inevitably influence our outcomes.

Bearing this in mind, one of the primary challenges facing a number of efforts around education innovation—including a number of personalized learning initiatives—is that they are built upon simplified models and assumptions. (more…)

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