Category: Policy

U.S. Department of Education Outlines Guidance for Submitting Amendments to State ESSA Plans

December 8, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on November 27, 2018.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance outlining how states can amend their state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA State Plan amendment process offers an opportunity for continuous improvement of state education systems, toward greater coherence.

According to the guidelines, a state wishing to make an amendment will need to: (more…)

How Can States Transition to Student-Centered Learning?

October 22, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at ExcelinEd’s EdFly blog on August 14, 2018 and has been updated to include links to the first three briefs.

The proliferation of innovative, personalized and mastery-based models in schools, districts and states across the country demonstrates that completely prohibitive policy barriers, thankfully, do not exist. Our work has shown us that most states already have policies in place, (e.g., waivers) that can help schools implement new models—though we have also seen these opportunities remain largely underutilized or misunderstood. (more…)

Capacity in Vermont: If You Build It, They Will Change

March 28, 2018 by

For Vermont, the key to creating a personalized proficiency-based system is capacity building that provides flexible entry points for professionals and opportunities for collaborative learning. As with students, Vermont’s system of support presumes that all educators come from different places and learn in different ways, and that the most powerful learning happens in collaboration.

This coming Spring, Dr. Andrew (Andy) Hargreaves and Allison Zmuda will be leading professional development sessions in Burlington, Vermont in support of implementing the state’s proficiency-based, personalized learning policies — Education Quality Standards (EQS) and Act 77 — with fidelity. Their presentations are sponsored by the Agency of Education’s Vermont Professional Learning Network (VT PLN), in partnership with the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE). There are four interconnected strands to VT PLN work — the Digging Deep series, Vermont Stories, self-paced courses, and Collaborative Learning Groups (CLGs) — each with the goal of strengthening instructional practice and bringing together educators to address opportunities and challenges implementing EQS. (more…)

Multiple Measures Data and Reporting in Vermont and California

March 13, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on February 14, 2018.

In personalized, competency-based education, schools should have far better data to support student learning, provide greater transparency and analyze and continuously improve on their practice through data and reporting with multiple measures. Likewise, states can consider how to present multiple measures of student learning and school quality with advanced data visualization to provide families with rich, easy to understand information.

What States Are Using Multiple Measures for Reporting Data and Continuous Improvement?

This post highlights how Vermont aligns multiple measures to the state’s student-centered learning priorities and to guide continuous improvement. This post also highlights California’s multiple measures dashboard as an example of providing information to different education stakeholders in the state. (more…)

Considerations for Next Generation Accountability System Redesign

March 7, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on February 6, 2018.

The previous blog, Why Next Generation Accountability for Continuous Improvement is Important, explored the need to redesign accountability systems to support all learners based on reciprocal accountability and continuous improvement. This blog will focus on how states can begin to design next generation accountability systems.

As policymakers think long term about accountability redesign, an important first step in the development of a next generation accountability system is to create a clear vision of student success with diverse internal and external stakeholders. A shared vision for student success can clarify the purpose of the state’s K-12 education system and drive coherent policies across the education system to make that vision a reality. One way states can create a shared statewide vision that reflect a new definition of success is through the creation of graduate profiles (Redefining Student Success: Profile of a Graduate). (more…)

Three Big Questions for Evolving State Education Policy to Support Student-Centered Learning in 2018

February 28, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 26, 2018.

With states preparing to implement newly-approved plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), there is an opportunity to reflect on some key issues from the field. ESSA provides a historic opportunity for states to transform K-12 education by redefining success, redesigning systems of assessments, rethinking accountability and aligning educator workforce capacity to student-centered learning.

After years of asking for more flexibility and freedom from No Child Left Behind’s restrictive frameworks for accountability, assessment and teacher quality, state and local stakeholders can now approach outdated educational systems differently under ESSA. States could use new flexibility in ESSA to advance equity and improve student outcomes with systems that support student-centered learning. (more…)

Redesigning Systems of Assessments for Student-Centered Learning

February 21, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 24, 2018.

Assessment is essential for understanding what students know and for providing transparency and fairness when it comes to certifying mastery of knowledge and skills. Assessment can provide timely feedback to educators on where students are in their learning and to inform the supports that they need to succeed. It also plays an important role for educational leaders to evaluate the effectiveness of learning models, on achievement and for policymakers to understand the effectiveness of policies and use of public funding. In redesigning systems of assessments, state policymakers should consider what is needed to make assessment more meaningful and integrally-linked to student learning.

The challenge ahead for policymakers is to rethink assessment policies to enable student-centered teaching and learning. This will require creating balanced systems of assessments to: (more…)

U.S. Department of Education Invites State Applications for a New Pilot on Innovative Systems of Assessments

February 14, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 8, 2018.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) created an Innovative Assessment Pilot and the much anticipated application was released last week by the United States Department of Education (USED). States can now apply for new flexibility they’ve been seeking to create innovative, next generation models of accountability and systems of assessments (with a smaller subset of districts in the state) since the passage of ESSA in 2015.

Innovative Assessment Pilot (ESSA Section 1204)

On January 3, the U.S. Department of Education released a Federal Register official notice inviting applications from states for the Innovative Accountability and Assessment Demonstration Authority. This is the “Innovative Assessment Pilot” and it is also a new opportunity in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for states to pilot new types of assessments. (more…)

U.S. Department of Education Invites State Applications for a New Pilot on Innovative Systems of Assessments

January 24, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 8, 2018. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) created an Innovative Assessment Pilot and the much anticipated application was released last week by the United States Department of Education (USED). States can now apply for new flexibility they’ve been seeking to create innovative, next generation models of accountability and systems of assessments (with a smaller subset of districts in the state) since the passage of ESSA in 2015.

Innovative Assessment Pilot (ESSA Section 1204)

On January 3, the U.S. Department of Education released a Federal Register official notice inviting applications from states for the Innovative Accountability and Assessment Demonstration Authority. This is the “Innovative Assessment Pilot” and it is also a new opportunity in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for states to pilot new types of assessments. (more…)

A Growing Movement: Behind the Shift to Competency-Based Diplomas

January 10, 2018 by

Why We Must Reconsider the High School Diploma

By at least one important metric, American education appears to be making progress. Our high school students are graduating at record rates, and the numbers have been steadily climbing in recent years.[i] However, behind this veil of graduation rates,[1] abundant evidence reveals that we still have a lot of work to do. Compared globally, the US still ranks in the bottom half of the industrialized world in graduation rates, and a sizeable attainment gap persists between whites and minorities.[ii] Among those who do graduate high school and enroll in postsecondary education, nearly half require remedial coursework.[iii] As a result, our college completion rates are alarmingly low—especially for minorities.[2] In fact, only 9.5% of students requiring remedial reading coursework in community colleges leave with a degree, while only 35% in four-year colleges graduate.[iv]

These results pose an especially dire forecast when one considers the increasing importance of postsecondary education. As Jobs for the Future adeptly noted in its 2017 recommendations for the reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Act, “[t]here is a dire need for skilled workers and mounting evidence that postsecondary education has a direct impact on earnings. The shifting needs of the current economy make it clear that to attain real upward mobility, workers will need to be equipped with the education and skills that make them of high value to employers and able to adapt to changes in the workplace.[v]” It is likely the absence of the necessary training and skills that leads two thirds of hiring managers to say they cannot find qualified workers to fill even middle-skills jobs.[vi]

If we are to break the cycle of poverty, particularly among our minority communities, and if we are to ensure the economic welfare of our nation, the American education system must do something about our college matriculation and remediation rates. States and districts must find solutions to ensure that kids are prepared to succeed when they leave high school and not hamstrung with an unemployable skillset.

One such solution that many states are exploring is the competency-based diploma. Though policies differ among the states, competency-based diplomas (sometimes referred to as proficiency-based diplomas) typically discard traditional graduation credit requirements that rely heavily on the number of hours students spend in the classroom, instead requiring that students demonstrate certain competencies before earning credit for a course. Thus, competency-based diplomas create an advantage in that they inherently require individualized attention to each student’s mastery of standards, and they guard against time-based promotion. Only by ensuring that each student truly ascertains the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for postsecondary success can we improve college and career readiness.

The Movement for Competency-Based Diplomas

So, which states are shifting towards competency-based diplomas? To date, most states actually have laws allowing districts to issue competency-based diplomas, either by submitting a detailed proposal for a competency-based system to the state or by taking part in a state program in which districts can pilot a competency-based diploma. However, six states are taking the policy a step further and uniformly requiring that at least some portion of graduation requirements include the demonstration of proficiency for credit. Among those six states, two distinct approaches to the competency-based diploma have surfaced: a few states have fully proficiency-based graduation requirements, and a few have partially proficiency-based requirements. (more…)

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