Category: Understanding Competency Education

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #7: Activate Student Agency and Ownership

November 26, 2018 by

This is the eighth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #7 Activate Student Agency and Ownership on page 59. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

What is student agency?

The standard reply in our field these days is “voice and choice.” Certainly, “voice and choice” is a pithy memorable phrase. It also has value in that creating opportunity for students to have voice and choice in their daily lives is a relatively easy practice to introduce in the classroom. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #6: Base School Design and Pedagogy on Learning Sciences

November 21, 2018 by

This is the seventh article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #6 Base School Design and Pedagogy on Learning Sciences on page 54. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

 

If I had a magic wand and could go back eight years, I would make clarifying the pedagogical principles the first step in moving toward personalized, competency-based education. At the time, districts and schools were primarily using engaging the community around a shared vision and purpose as the first step. And it is indeed a powerful and important step. However, when teachers are trying to implement a personalized approach while still believing in fixed intelligence, considering students as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge, and depending solely on ‘carrots and sticks’ to motivate, it’s too easy to come to the conclusion that the approach isn’t effective.

We can’t underestimate the power of the beliefs we bring to our work. They are invisible but shape every thing we do. They are difficult to pin down because they don’t operate in isolation – they are dynamic within our full set of beliefs. And when it comes to bias, we may be ashamed that we carry stereotypes that shape our beliefs about other people and seek to hide them rather them bring them to the surface.

“One of the biggest changes is from assuming that the stand and deliver approach to learning in which teachers deliver curriculum and students are expected to just give it back on tests actually works. We are inching along in our understanding that scholars have to be active learners and that we need to build on what they already know. We can’t assume what they know – we need to discover it. Without the data, we are at risk of just making up stuff and spinning our wheels. If you are making me learn letters when I already know them, you are not helping me reach my potential.” – Cynthia Lamkin, Lead Learner, Otken Elementary School, McComb School District, MS, 2018

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What to Do When the Field Goes “Mustard”

November 15, 2018 by

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

What do we call the stage of field development when the so-called “experts” and expert organizations are providing inadequate, weak, or even bad advice? Several Google searches didn’t come up with an answer, so I’m going to call it the “mustard” stage… As in, we aren’t performing at the level needed to fully support districts and schools – in other words, we “aren’t cutting the mustard.” (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #5: Cultivate Empowering and Distributed Leadership

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This is the sixth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #5 Cultivate Empowering and Distributed Leadership on page 48. 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.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to implement or sustain a personalized, competency-based system through top-down bureaucratic approaches. You can’t simply write a memo to tell schools and educators how to change their practices. You can’t tell people to change their beliefs and assumptions. The change process requires engagement. Engagement requires trusting relationships and time for dialogue and learning. Trust is developed and demonstrated by listening to, investing in, and respecting the ability of others to make strong decisions. Thus, districts and schools making headway in creating competency-based systems will usually refer to the importance of empowerment and distributed leadership that give schools and educators more autonomy. But autonomy doesn’t mean the individual makes all decisions. Rather, it refers to decisions being made closer to and involving the people who are being impacted. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #4: Foster the Development of a Growth Mindset

November 7, 2018 by

This is the fifth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #4 Foster the Development of a Growth Mindset on page 45. 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.

Think about it: The traditional system of education is built upon the belief that intelligence is fixed: there are smart people and not-as-smart people, there are winners and losers, and there is little anyone can do to change someone’s innate ability or potential.

I don’t believe there is any reason to discuss the psychological insights offered in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success or resources on how to help yourself and students in your classroom develop a growth mindset, as this is a set of research that is becoming embedded in schools across the nation (and possibly globally!). However, if for any reason the adults in your school have not become familiar with and knowledgeable about how to develop the growth mindset in themselves and others, stop reading this article and spend your time on Mindset. This is a non-negotiable step in creating a system of education designed for success for all. (more…)

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…)

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