Category: Policy

Update on Maine’s Proficiency-Based Diploma Policy

May 11, 2016 by
Maine State House

Maine State House, Wikipedia

To refresh your memory, Maine had originally set a policy that students would be expected to demonstrate proficiency in all eight domains to get a diploma. Under pressure of trying to get all students to reach proficiency in all eight domains, districts asked for more flexibility. The first ideas considered were much lower expectations of proficiency in math and ELA being used as a graduation requirement. The final policy sets a series of phases and also includes students being able to choose one or more of the domains they need to demonstrate proficiency.

B-1. Phase in the following diploma requirements from the 2020-2021 school year to the 2024-2025 school year:

(1) For a student graduating in the graduating class of 2020-2021, certify that the student has demonstrated proficiency in meeting the state standards in the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science and technology and social studies;

(2) For a student graduating in the graduating class of 2021-2022, certify that the student has demonstrated proficiency in meeting the state standards in the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science and technology, social studies and at least one additional content area of the student’s choice;

(3) For a student graduating in the graduating class of 2022-2023, certify that the student has demonstrated proficiency in meeting the state standards in the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science and technology, social studies and at least 2 additional content areas of the student’s choice;

(4) For a student graduating in the graduating class of 2023-2024, certify that the student has demonstrated proficiency in meeting the state standards in the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science and technology, social studies and at least 3 additional content areas of the student’s choice; and

(5) For a student graduating in the graduating class of 2024-2025 and for each subsequent graduating class, certify that the student has demonstrated proficiency in meeting the state standards in all content areas.

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South Carolina Overview

May 2, 2016 by

SC State FlagIt’s hard to stay on top of all fifty states now that district-wide and whole school competency-based education is expanding so rapidly. (Please note: Even though vendors like to describe their products as competency-based, we do not believe that an adaptive software program can be competency-based. Online programs are simply able to produce flexible pacing based on the algorithms that are used to determine proficiency within the program. This is very different from designing a system based upon a growth mindset and organized to help every student be successful.) Here is a quick summary of what we know about what is going on in South Carolina. If you have any updates, please send them our way.

Two Leading Districts (Are There Others?)

Charleston

Red Bank Elementary, Lexington

If you know of other districts and schools becoming competency-based in South Carolina please let us know. (more…)

Nineteen Districts in Idaho Start the Journey to Mastery-Based Learning

April 25, 2016 by
Sherri Ybarra

Sherri Ybarra, Superintendent of Public Instruction

Last week, Superintendent Sherri Ybarra announced the twenty districts/schools that will launch Idaho’s Mastery Education Network (IMEN). According to the press release, “IMEN was authorized in 2015 when Governor Butch Otter signed HB 110 to move Idaho towards a mastery education model. This model will move students away from the current time-based system to a mastery system and allow for a more personalized and differentiated learning experience.”

As Idaho explains in a mastery-based learning system, “students advance to higher levels of learning when they demonstrate mastery of concepts and skills regardless of time, place or pace.” Ybarra said, “The beauty of a mastery-based education system is that it is rooted in local control and is truly from the ground up. Local communities, schools, and districts will determine through this effort what is best to meet the needs of their students.” (more…)

Proficiency-Based High School Diploma Systems in Maine

April 21, 2016 by

DiplomaI toured the state of Maine last fall to try to understand what was happening in districts, as the policy for a proficiency-based diploma challenged all districts to create more meaning than time-based credits for graduation and figure out how to get all students to be able to cross the finish line. (Maine’s policy essentially made high school a four year clock that started ticking when students enter ninth grade.) You can find the overview of the Maine Road Trip here.

Last month, the Maine Education Policy Research Institute (MEPRI) at the Center for Education Policy, Applied Research & Evaluation (CEPARE) at the University of Southern Maine released their fourth policy report Proficiency-based High School Diploma Systems in Maine based on six case studies. This stage of the research asked three questions:

  1. How do Maine public school and school district educators and administrators perceive the challenges and facilitators of implementing the state’s mandated proficiency-based diploma system as described in An Act To Prepare Maine People for the Future Economy?
  2. How do Maine public school and school district educators and administrators perceive the impacts of implementing the state’s mandated proficiency-based diploma system as described in An Act To Prepare Maine People for the Future Economy on management systems and structures, fiscal allocations, school climate, instruction, as well as curriculum and assessment?
  3. How are Maine public school districts defining proficiency and developing local PK-12 proficiency-based diploma policies?

For any state thinking about going in this direction as a high leverage policy strategy, it is well worth reading all the reports.

Here are a few highlights from the report by Erika Stump, Bernadette Doykos and Catherine Fallona. (more…)

An Opportunity in ESSA for Performance Assessment Literacy and Teacher Leadership

April 13, 2016 by

Ready for College and CareerThe hope of ESSA is that it will offer a rebalancing for our nation’s accountability principles by moving away from a fixation on high-stakes tests and sanctions. Many (for example, see iNACOL, KnowledgeWorks, and The America Forward Coalition) are advocating using the opportunity to foster greater innovation and implementation of learner-centered and personalized approaches to learning that focus on mastery in a competency-based environment. One key opportunity under ESSA is that seven states will be able to pilot new systems of assessment and accountability that, if designed well, have the potential to support strong, teacher-led practices that integrate teaching, learning, and assessment.

To achieve this outcome, districts will need to invest in their teaching staff, support purposeful inquiry to create cultures of growth, and think creatively about traditional barriers such as schedule and fixed marking periods. Before we know which states will follow New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE) pilot or develop other models, states, districts, and schools can begin to lay the groundwork needed. Moreover, a good idea is a good idea, whether or not the federal government approves. Changes in practice and in the culture of teaching and learning take time. Even if a school or district doesn’t ultimately take part in one of the seven ESSA state-level pilots, investing in a strong local system of teaching and assessment aligned to principles of student-centered learning is a good idea. It allows the district to create schools that serve students well by preparing each and every student for success in college, career, and life.

Keeping Students at the Center (The Why)

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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…)

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…)

Putting the Pieces Together

February 27, 2016 by

GeorgiaThis post originally appeared at the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s The EdFly Blog on February 1, 2016.

In the midst of holiday preparations, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission issued its final report and gave competency-based education advocates a little present.

With a clear charge from the Governor to develop a system allowing students to progress and learn at their unique pace, the Commission’s Move On When Ready Subcommittee gave careful thought to the many different ways new learning pathways could be developed or expanded for Georgia’s students. One of its recommendations was to begin the transition to a competency-based education system—an important component of personalized learning that allows students to advance to higher levels of learning when they demonstrate mastery of concepts and skills regardless of time, place or pace.

Even before the subcommittee began its work, Georgia had made significant steps to encourage innovation in education and regulatory flexibility for schools and districts testing new ways to personalize learning. In fact, the core pieces were already in place to accelerate the adoption of competency-based education. The subcommittee’s final recommendations clearly communicate the priority and leverage the opportunities already available in Georgia.

Strong State Support
Since the 2013 report of the Governor’s Digital Learning Task Force, Governor Deal’s support has been strong. The task force made six competency-based learning specific recommendations. The recommendations spanned from assessments to funding, with an overarching theme to “provide blended and competency-based learning opportunities, so that PK-12 and postsecondary students are able to broaden, accelerate, or otherwise pace their learning appropriately and ensure mastery before progressing.” The Georgia Department of Education has also demonstrated its commitment to this policy through Georgia’s Path to Personalized Learning. The path provides more information on a variety of state-level resources available to schools to help them transition to personalized and competency-based learning. (more…)

Advancing Students When They are Ready

February 22, 2016 by

FloridaThis post originally appeared on the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s Ed Fly Blog on January 4, 2016.

It’s no secret that ExcelinEd is excited about Competency-Based Education—the new approach to learning that allows to students to advance as they master course material.

Politico Florida recently reported that with guidance from the Foundation for Florida’s Future (ExcelinEd’s sister organization), three school districts in Florida have already begun implementing competency-based education pilot programs. Now it’s time for Florida lawmakers to remove existing barriers to competency-based learning in the state so more students can benefit from this strategy.

Check out an excerpt from the piece below, or head to Politico Florida for the full article.

…Florida is in a particularly strong position to implement competency-based learning because schools here have already implemented many of the components. The state’s schools have prioritized acquiring technological devices and offering online coursework, for example. There are policies that allow students to earn credit for some courses just by passing end-of-course exams or earn college credit while in high school through Advanced Placement or community college courses. Students may graduate high school early. (more…)

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