Category: Insights into Implementation

What Not To Do: Six Problematic Practices in the Transition to Competency Education

September 17, 2018 by

Implementation mistakes cause harm in both the short run and the long run. In the short run, students may be receiving mixed messages that can impact learning, engagement, and motivation or result in inadequate support. In the long run, it harms the competency education movement.

There are always going to be concerns raised by those who oppose competency education based on an ideological or political standpoint such as anti-standards, a wish to return to covering content, and an enduring fear that communism may rear its head if we hold high expectations for all students. However, the larger threat to advancing competency education is shallow or one-off implementation and failure to not address problems of practice . (Please see David Ruff’s article Six Fixes for Proficiency-Based Learning.)

The risk of poor implementation is that competency-based education becomes defined by the problems in the field rather than a definitional, aspirational, or research-based approach. Can you imagine describing the field of medicine, journalism, or agriculture by the errors, missteps, or bad actors? This is why building a field with an agreed upon working definition, design principles, and quality standards is important. Otherwise we leave ourselves to being defined, as in this case, by poor practice.

The Critics Are Our Friends

The fact of the matter is when our critics comment on problems of practice they are often right to do so. We need to take these types of critiques seriously and correct them. These practices are likely to be problematic unless a highly developed model is in place. (more…)

Six Fixes for Proficiency-Based Learning

August 28, 2018 by
david ruff

David Ruff

Two realities almost always arise when we engage in systemic change. First, while the change is framed as universally beneficial, it’s almost always disruptive and frequently gives rise to new and additional concerns. Second, implementation never goes as smoothly as planned. This certainly has happened in Maine as the state has embarked on a courageous journey to shift from an unfair and inadequate learning system to one that is equitable and just.

It is very good news that as this shift has been underway, Maine teachers have remained steadfast in their commitment to better learning for students. Early indications from this change are all good as four-year high school graduation rates in Maine have increased from 80% to 87% over the past seven years, college enrollment rates have increased from 60% to 64%, and college persistence rates have increased from 75% to 77%.[1]

Having noted this, we have to face a reality of the current K-12 public education system in America—it is unfair and designed to inequitably rank and sort students. The US public education system inequitably favors students who start better prepared, who have additional external support, and who are not impinged by non-school demands on their time. In the face of these and other significant obstacles, teachers make heroic efforts every day to treat students fairly and provide myriad learning opportunities to overcome these concerns. While many student success stories result from these significant efforts, these daily acts of heroism fall short of what is needed to close our pernicious equity gaps and ensure each and every high school graduate is well-prepared for the rigors of college and work, and the privileges and opportunities of civic life. (more…)

Moving from Compliance to Agency: Maine Modifies its Proficiency-Based Policy

August 21, 2018 by

By Tony Webster (Maine State Legislature Office (Capitol) – Augusta) via Wikimedia Commons

The growing concerns about proficiency-based learning has led to the Maine state legislature repealing the proficiency-based diploma and modifying its policy that all school districts be expected to implement proficiency-based education. (A note: There are complications about when this goes into effect and, for those students already in proficiency-based systems, they will need to complete their high school experience with the same graduation requirements in which they started according to Maine law.) School districts do retain the option to move to proficiency-based learning and many are likely to do so.

Poor implementation by districts that were only making the changes to comply with state law rather than thinking about designing around what is best for students to learn created confusion such as thinking that proficiency-based learning is only a change in grading practice. Understandably, parents pushed back when districts mistakenly focused on the issue of “time being a variable” and no longer required students to attend school without having put into place the system that is designed to support student learning, such as building intrinsic motivation and systems of feedback on the habits of success. Instead of demanding effective implementation, the concerns about problematic implementation were directed at proficiency-based learning itself. Thus, the lagging districts that were driven by compliance were undermining the efforts of those leading districts that were empowered and driven to forge proficiency-based systems designed around research on how students learn. (more…)

The Day in a Life Student in a Personalized, Competency-Based School

July 31, 2018 by

Mile Wolking

Mike Wolking, currently completing an Axford Fellowship while on leave from Education Elements, sent me a summary of a short investigation he completed in how a student spends their day. He followed a student in a New Zealand secondary school for a day and tracked her activities. As I read through the summary, I thought it might be a helpful way to begin to think about the quality of personalized, competency-based education. This type of data could be useful for reflection and opening up conversations about where there might be opportunities for strengthening instruction, assessment, and learning experiences as well as identifying where operational policies or organizational habits are getting in the way. One would have to also consider the question: How do we think a student should spend their time in order to optimize learning and development? (more…)

Three Misconceptions of Competency-Based Education

July 25, 2018 by

Stephen Johnson

Every school in every district wants to meet students where they are and allow them to show what they have learned. As good as this sounds, schools have different ways of getting there. We find that school leaders use many of the same words and phrases but those phrases imply something different. Definitions of models like competency-based education (CBE), student-centered learning, and a number of other learner-centered models affect the way in which the strategies are implemented, leading to scattered, inconsistent results in student achievement. Recently, national efforts have been led to connect entities in the CBE space to share ideas and to establish a common language. This common language would help to ensure that the words spoken carry the same universal meaning, regardless of locale. (more…)

Mythbusters: Misconceptions About How Students Learn

May 4, 2018 by

From the Teach to One blog. This article was written by Gabe DeAngelis and Brad Cameron from the Instructional Content and Progressions team at New Classrooms.

In our jobs at New Classrooms, we are constantly thinking about how to create and refine personalized paths to guide students through the mathematical landscape. This requires us to consider myriad factors—what, where, when, how, and with whom— that shape a student’s learning experience. Often, this means confronting long-held misconceptions about how students learn and ensuring that our program—Teach to One: Math—doesn’t reinforce these myths.

(more…)

Just “Let It Go”

May 3, 2018 by

As a personalized learning coach and trainer for Competency Based Education Solutions, I have seen the triumphs and trials of implementing personalized learning. I have heard the following phrases: “this too shall pass” and “I will get on board after my team figures it out.” To this I respond, it’s not about you, it’s not about the history of failed initiatives. Rather, it’s about what is right for students and how to help them to become successful lifelong learners. (more…)

Personalized Learning: Lessons to Get the Message Right

May 2, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on April 8, 2018 and ExcelinEd on April 4, 2018.

Interest in personalized learning continues to surge all across the country. However, not everyone understands what personalized learning looks like or the changes it will necessitate, and people are often wary of what they don’t understand. So how we talk about personalized learning can either engage families or push them away. (more…)

Personalized Learning Won’t Work without Personalized Supports

April 30, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at the Christensen Institute on March 21, 2018.

Last week’s New York Times Fixes column highlighted the enormous promise of PowerMyLearning, a framework and tool that connects teachers, families, and students. The approach marks a departure from run-of-the-mill family engagement strategies like infrequent parent-teacher conferences or once yearly back-to-school nights. Instead, as the article outlines, PowerMyLearning deliberately integrates efforts to engage families with efforts to improve academics by regularly looping families into collaborative homework activities and opening online, data-driven communication channels between teachers and families. (more…)

Unpacking Thinking: Empowering Students in Proficiency-Based Education

April 24, 2018 by

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

What does it take for all students to meet high standards? All students, including those with functional and academic disabilities, can meet rigorous standards. All students can be empowered to reach rigorous standards, increase opportunities for growth, and deepen their learning when provided with explicit instruction on how to use the knowledge taxonomy as the foundation. The knowledge taxonomy serves as a resource for students and teachers to clearly map out what students need to do for demonstrating proficiency. (more…)

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera