Category: Understanding Competency Education

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #3: Nurture a Culture of Learning and Inclusivity

November 2, 2018 by

This is the fourth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #3 Nurture a Culture of Learning and Inclusivity on page 41. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

We made a mistake in the first few years of CompetencyWorks. We simply underestimated the importance of culture – the underlying values, beliefs, rituals, and relationships that shape an organization or community – in making the transition to a competency-based system. Many schools and districts are making the same mistake when they focus on the structural or technical changes without first paying attention to culture. In fact, I’d throw out the hypothesis that the districts that couldn’t figure out how to implement proficiency-based learning well in Maine and advocated to terminate the policy of proficiency-based diplomas never took the time to adjust their school culture. (more…)

A Review from an iNACOL Newbie

October 29, 2018 by

I just returned from Nashville where I attended my very first iNACOL conference. In the weeks leading up to the conference, I poured over the conference website and reviewed the hundreds of sessions being offered. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the iNACOL experience would be like. I knew that I would have an opportunity to meet and learn from experts in competency-based education and personalized learning. I was excited about attending a pre-conference workshop with Chris Sturgis, where my colleagues and I would dig into the Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. I was eager to learn from representatives of the Kettle Moraine, Dallas ISD, and Shelby County Schools, whose work I admired from afar. By the end of my four days in Nashville, everything I expected to happen at iNACOL, did happen. But it was the unexepected that made my iNACOL experience truly exceptional.

Here are just a few of the unexpected gems: (more…)

CBE Problems of Practice: Late Work

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This is the sixth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendancepace, individualized learning, and granularity.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

6. Removing all consequences for late work. Much like the issue of attendance, learning what level and amount of effort is required to complete something and time management are important aspects of learning. Some schools have jumped to removing all consequences for late work, thereby supporting the idea that it isn’t important to be timely. This is a misstep in implementation that has placed unacceptable levels of burden on teachers who receive all assignments at the end of the year. Again, as schools separate out behaviors from grading academic progress, it is important to replace it with something else. Habits of success such as time management and lifelong learning skills such as self-regulation are critically important for academic success. These need to be emphasized and reflected upon in terms of their impact on student progress. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #2: Commit to Equity

October 25, 2018 by

This is the third article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #2 Commit to Equity on page 37. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

The pursuit of quality and the pursuit of equity have a reciprocal and reinforcing relationship. Honestly, I don’t know how you do one without the other. Although people and schools turn to competency-based education for many reasons, creating a more equitable system is inherent in what it means to create a competency-based system. We are trying to design a system in which success is the only option.

It helps to understand why the traditional system needs to change. Our understanding continues to deepen about how the traditional system undermines efforts of schools to create more equitable achievement. (more…)

“Find Your Tribe, Love Them Hard.” ~Danielle LaPorte

October 24, 2018 by

Brenda Vogds

In 2009, I attended my first iNACOL conference. It was in Austin, Texas and at the time, I was serving in a K-12 Technology Coordinator role. I was working in the Kettle Moraine School District in Wales, WI, where we were working on our first charter grant that would allow us to offer some online course components in relation to a Global Learning experience. I remember walking into the iNACOL opening reception and immediately knowing I was in the right place. The room buzzed with conversations that spoke of the day when learners would be the focus. Lots of “imagine if’s” were spoken.  Imagine if we didn’t have to track learners by grade. Imagine if learners could get credit for what they knew. Imagine if we didn’t have to teach chapter by chapter. Imagine if. The words imagine if were not passive, dreamer’s terms, they were an active engagement into a greater conversation about how we will change this world for every learner. (more…)

Customizing a System for Us by Us

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Image from the Ridgewood High School website.

We came to Nashville on Sunday, invited by Chris Sturgis to participate in the iNACOL pre-conference Competency Education Leadership Forum. We came to get the answers to questions. These were questions that we had yet to find the answers to despite our best efforts.

Using the 16 Quality Principles as our framework, we connected with educational leaders from all over the country and learned that our remaining questions are their remaining questions. During the Leadership Forum, our collaborative efforts to answer our shared questions revealed that our questions had not been answered because we are the designers and the pioneers driving the transformation of learning. That is the message. These aren’t questions to be discovered and created, not simply answered. (more…)

CBE Problems of Practice: Granularity on Advance Upon Mastery is Too Small

October 22, 2018 by

This is the fifth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendance, pace, and individualized learning.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

5. Demanding that students demonstrate achievement on every small standard. We’ve heard of situations in which schools are holding students back from more advanced studies due to not learning very small and inconsequential skills or knowledge. Parents are legitimately asking about the value of some learning standards that were designed with coverage in mind, but are now being used for student level accountability in a competency-based system. In (more…)

Competency Education Quality Principle #1: Purpose-Driven

October 19, 2018 by

This is the second article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #1 Purpose-Driven on page 31. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

What does it mean to be purpose-driven?

For those who use design thinking, it means clarifying the point from which you backward plan. We have to know where we want to get in order to design the school and learning experiences that will get you there. (more…)

CBE Problems of Practice: Individualizing Learning

October 15, 2018 by

This is the fourth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendance, and pace.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

4. Defaulting to individual learning rather than cohorts of learners. Building on pace, quite a few districts have pushed for individual learning. It takes a very talented teacher to differentiate to this level; few are trained well to do so, few have received any training, and most are struggling. In fact, recent research suggests that collaboration brings valuable benefits to students and should be considered an important aspect of student-centered learning. (more…)

Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education

October 11, 2018 by

iNACOL and CompetencyWorks released the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education today. This book, which started out as a paper and expanded into a primer on competency education with the help of Katherine Casey, completes the collection of papers developed as part of the National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education. (more…)

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