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Wrap-Up on the New Zealand Series

December 31, 2018 by

For those of you thinking about learning about the education system in Aotearoa New Zealand, I’ll offer two pieces of advice. First, beside kia ora (hello), spend time learning a bit about the Māori language and familiarizing yourself with the phrases used at the Ministry of Education. Whanau, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, and Kāhui Ako will be frequently dropped into conversation. Second, there are loads of great reports on the NZCER website. Take the time to read up before you go. I highly recommend NCEA in Context to understand the reasons and revisions in shaping their method for certifying learning and Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou/Struggle Without End to prepare you to engage effectively in understanding New Zealand’s biculturalism.

Below are all the articles on New Zealand published at CompetencyWorks. I’ll be continuing the series with more school profiles at LearningEdge in 2019. (more…)

How Competency-Based is New Zealand?

December 19, 2018 by

This is the final article in the CompetencyWork series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand. Links to the full set of articles are at the bottom of this page. You can find more about New Zealand at LearningEdge.

When I returned from Aotearoa New Zealand, I was frequently asked, “How competency-based is New Zealand?” It was never an easy question to answer because we’ve created a working definition and ten distinguishing features of competency-based that may or may not be the right ones. Furthermore, there are at least three core drivers or bar-raising policy goals that are shaping our understanding of competency-based education:

  • Redesigning schools and learning experiences around what we know about how children learn rather than continuing to operate upon a set of out-of-date beliefs and mindsets that form the traditional system.
  • Responding to changes in society and the economy that require a system that develops a broader set of knowledge and skills for student success: academic knowledge and skills, transferable skills (deeper learning and higher order skills), and lifelong learning.
  • Creating a more equitable system that monitors both growth and achievement to ensure that every student has opportunity to discover their potential and have doors opened for them upon graduation.

(more…)

Insights from Aotearoa New Zealand: NCEA

December 18, 2018 by

This is the twelfth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.If you are going to New Zealand, be sure to read NCEA in Context. There are other resources at NZQA and NZCER that will be valuable as well.

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is not a high school diploma. It is a certificate of achievement that indicates the level of achievement that students have learned at their completion of school. NCEA certificates of achievement aren’t received. They are earned. Time in the seat doesn’t matter. What matters is demonstrating learning.

The NCEA is a very sophisticated system with intentional thought given to ensuring that it is meaningful to students, schools, and the tertiary system. I’m going to do my best to translate the NCEA to our American education system by highlighting features of the system in bold. (more…)

Insights from Aotearoa New Zealand: Credentialing Learning

December 11, 2018 by

From Youth Guarantee http://youthguarantee.net.nz

This is the eleventh article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

One of the key features of a competency-based system that CompetencyWorks has identified is a transparent framework of learning. Every school making the transition takes the time to build shared understanding of either a competency framework or the state standards. This includes building understanding of what depth of knowledge the standards are set at to align instruction and assessment, as well as building a shared understanding of what proficiency looks like for the grade level being taught (in addition to the standards above and below that students might need to or are ready to tackle).

However, in most cases, these transparent competency frameworks are primarily organized within a school or perhaps across a district. Only a handful of states have developed a full K-12 competency framework. And as far as I know, there is no place (yet) where higher education has been willing to construct a transparent framework that might extend from K-13 or even K-16. (more…)

Insights from Aotearoa New Zealand: Key Competencies

December 10, 2018 by

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This is the tenth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

Aotearoa New Zealand offers so many insights and inspirations in our work to forge a personalized, competency-based system. I’m going to highlight three examples: key competencies; a transparent system of cross-sector performance levels; and the National Certificate of Educational Achievement.

These examples are not going to be easily or directly translated to the U.S. context. Certainly, it’s best to draw from NZ for ideas for state policy. Imagining its approach as a model for our federal government makes my brain hurt because of our multiple levels of governance as compared to their Tomorrow’s School policy granting school autonomy. It’s also important to remember, too, that the Kiwis are in a process of moving toward modern schools with modern pedagogy and modern learning environments. With 2,500 autonomous schools, there are plenty of very traditional schools that just want to keep doing what they are doing. Similar to the U.S., there are also schools that have sunk into the swamp of dysfunction and are awaiting the combination of community and national public will that is required to intervene. (more…)

Insights from Aotearoa New Zealand: Defining Lifelong Learning

December 7, 2018 by

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This is the ninth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

Day by day, I am developing a deeper understanding about the Building Blocks for Learning (a 16-part comprehensive framework that includes everything from self-regulation to self-direction), their relationship to modern pedagogy based on research on learning, and the ultimate goal of ensuring students are powerful lifelong learners. The Building Blocks also have implications for school design, teaching, and how learning experiences (i.e., curriculum) are designed. (more…)

Pt. England Primary: The Cherry or the Orchard

December 6, 2018 by

This is the eighth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

As I wrapped up the conversation with Russell Burt, principal of Pt. England Primary in Auckland, I mentioned that the U.S. was building up capacity around school design. Burt immediately suggested that our focus is too narrow. He explained, “If you cherry pick, which is what happens with many charter schools, you will, no doubt, bless the cherry, but you probably won’t bless the tree, and its most unlikely that you will bless the orchard. We need to work in such a way that we bless the orchard. In other words, we want to see the whole community improve with ‘all boats rise on a rising tide.’” (more…)

Pt. England Primary: Gifting Language

December 4, 2018 by

This is the seventh article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

What a gift it was to enjoy a morning with Russell Burt at Pt. England Primary in Auckland. Burt and his wife Dorothy have spent their adult lives seeking ways to improve the lives of students and families who are most marginalized from mainstream society. They embrace the cultures of the families they serve. They dig deep into the research on the science of learning, instruction, and assessment to figure out how to pull the pieces together to optimize learning. They are on a continual search for a way to organize classrooms, schools, and communities that will help every student thrive and discover their fullest potential. (more…)

Pt. England Primary: Understanding Where Students Are

November 27, 2018 by

This is the sixth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

In addition to the Learn, Create, Share process developed by the teachers at Pt. England Primary described in the previous articles, another important aspect of the pedagogical approach is to ensure that students are operating at their curricular level. Burt explained, “It gives you the horrors when a teacher isn’t leveling the kids right. There are instant behavior problems when kids are working on the wrong level.” Burt asks that when teachers send students with behavior problems to see him, that they also send the Chromebook with examples of their reading and math so he can review physical artifacts about their learning. He checks to make sure students are engaged at the right level. “It can be as boring as toast with no spread on it if a kid is being asked to do something he already knows how to do or has no idea how to do.” (more…)

Pt. England Primary: Manaiakalani, The Hook from Heaven

November 20, 2018 by

This is the fifth article in the series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand, which highlights insights from a totally different education system about what is possible in transforming our education system. Read the first article here.

A little background before I describe Pt. England Primary’s pedagogical approach and strategy for accelerating learning. New Zealand’s education system is designed around the assumption that students enter school at different points in their learning and development, and that learning does not occur in the same way or same pace. There are eight curricular levels outlined in the New Zealand National Curriculum that are bands stretching across three years with the expectation that students will be learning within those bands at a given age.  

However, every educator I spoke to except two, Russell Burt, principal of Pt. England Primary, and Andy Kai Fong, principal at Haeata Community Campus, to some degree assumed that students who started at a lower level would end up at a lower level upon leaving school at the end of Year 13.   (more…)

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