CompetencyWorks is an online resource dedicated to providing information and knowledge about competency education in the K-12 education system. Drawing on lessons learned by innovators and early adopters, CompetencyWorks shares original research, knowledge and a variety of perspectives through an informative blog with practitioner knowledge, policy advancements, papers on emerging issues and a wiki with resources curated from across the field. CompetencyWorks also offers a blog on competency education in higher education so that the sectors can learn from each other and begin to align systems across K-12, higher education and the workplace.

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Blowing Up K-12?

May 10, 2012 by

It seems sacrilegious, really, but I am advocating that we do away with the K-12 grade level structure in education.  Perhaps because it has been how we have organized our schools since we evolved from the one room schoolhouse back in the nineteenth century, the grade level structure is taken for granted. You notice that reform agendas do not include doing away with grade levels. We have vouchers, charters, extended day, extended school year, evaluating teachers and principals if we are not firing them, privatizing schools or closing them and reopening them under new management, but no talk of doing away with grade levels. If anything, there is renewed interest in having students repeat grades as a backlash against social promotion.

We talk about thinking out of the box but no one talks about thinking out of grade levels. (more…)

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Spaulding High Holds the Spirit of Competency Education

May 9, 2012 by

Read more about Spaulding High School.

Traveling to Amherst, Massachusetts, for the Proficiency-Based Pathways meeting and a visit to Spaulding High School in Rochester, New Hampshire, was one of those profound reminders of the enormously beautiful variation in our country in terms of culture, race, and ethnicity—and, of course, geography—as the greening woods, running rivers, and sparkling forsythia nearly blinded my New Mexico eyes.

As you probably know, New Hampshire has transformed credits from seat-time to competency in all of its high schools. Spaulding’s principal, Mr. Rob Seaward, understands the spirit and value of competency education and is working with teachers to get it into every classroom. They are in the first year of the change and are still working out the kinks, so it’s way too early to look for results. However, here are just a few of the highlights of the site visit. (more…)

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Is a Standard a Competency? (Part 1)

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Read Part 2.

Here are links to NH math competencies and ELA competencies

The answer simply is ‘no’.  Standards represent the ‘what’ of school—what we need to know, and what we need to be able to do.  These standards may be identified as essential or important and may be mapped using local, state, or national frameworks.

When New Hampshire mandated that a high school student could only gain credit for a course when mastery of the course competency was demonstrated, teachers had to write course competencies. It forced the question: What is a competency? (more…)

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Welcome to CompetencyWorks: Why We are Here

May 1, 2012 by

Over the last two years, I have been on a journey to try to make right what I think is one of the biggest policy issues driving inequity in the United States – the K-12 education system which is driven by seat-time.  This journey is to re-design K-12 education around student learning and mastery.

The policies around seat-time limit how and when a student can learn, allow students to move to the next grade level with huge gaps in their learning, and limit extended learning opportunities.  Why should it matter whether a student learns in school, out of school, online, in the girl scouts or at a museum?  What should matter is that teachers are involved in assessing students’ mastery of learning at advanced levels.  So, rather than measuring how empty the “bucket” of knowledge is – let’s work on filling the bucket with world-class knowledge and skills to empower kids from all backgrounds for a lifetime of success.  Competency education, not seat time, is a critical design requirement to enable next generation learning environments. (more…)

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