Results for: Linsday USD

Lindsay Unified — Design Elements

June 17, 2013 by
Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 11.52.03 AM

from LUSD website

We often think of innovation as an urban phenomena, a natural outgrowth of concentration of an industry, strong peer networks, and competition driving toward excellence.  However, Lindsay, California shows us that innovation can take place anywhere, even in a town of 12,000, beribboned by orange groves at the edge of California’s Central Valley.

The Lindsay Unified School District is well on their way to transforming their entire system to a personalized, performance-based system.  The conversations among district management teams vibrate with how they can fully implement a system in which all students are able to achieve.  Students are part of the process – taking advantage of the new possibilities and helping to solve problems as they pop up. The high school began implementation in 2009 and they are now beginning to roll it out to middle and elementary schools.

This case study will be in two parts. This initial post will be on the design elements and the second part will be on the big take-aways from my site visit.


Design Elements

Lindsay is partnering with the Reinventing Schools Coalition (RISC), so many of the design elements will be familiar to those who have visited Maine or Adams 50.

Overarching Design: LUSD describes their system as performance-based: “In a performance-based system, students work at their performance level and advance through the curriculum when they have demonstrated proficiency of the required knowledge or skills.” LUSD identifies the following benefits of a performance-based system. Note they use the phrase “learner” instead of student and “facilitator” instead of teacher. (more…)

Competency Education Strand at the iNACOL Symposium

October 24, 2014 by
International Association for K-12 Online Learning

International Association for K-12 Online Learning

Take a peek at the strand on competency education at iNACOL’s Blended and Online Symposium coming up November 4–7. And for all of you going – let’s do a quick meet up on November 4th at the President’s Reception at 6-6:30 p.m. next to Booth 510 (it’s the “Activate Instruction” booth, the SIS/LMS developed by Summit Schools).

Here is a look at some of the highlights of the competency education strand of sessions:

November 4th

Pre-Conference Workshop Getting Started and Scaling Competency Education with Ellen Hume-Howard, Curriculum Director at Sanborn Regional School District (SRSD); Jonathon VanderEls, Principal, Memorial Elementary, SRSD; Brian Griffin, Principal, Lincoln School (K-8), Lindsay Unified School District (LUSD); and Rebecca Midles, Performance Based System Specialist, LUSD.

November 5th

The Competency Education Toolkit for Curriculum, Assessment, Instruction, and Grading led by Rose Colby, competency education consultant extraordinaire.

Kentucky’s State Policy & Districts of Innovation, with David Cook, Kentucky Department of Education.

Roadmap to Competency-Based Systems: How Well Are You Leveraging Next Gen Technologies? with Jennifer Davis Poon and Beth Colby from CCSSO and Thomas Gaffey from Building 21.

Igniting Learning: A Radical Approach to Designing A Competency Based Learning System led by Kim Carter, QED Foundation and founder of Making Community Connections Charter School and Elizabeth Cardine, QED Foundation.

Providing Flexible Pathways and Personalized Learning Options for All Students

November 1, 2018 by

This is the third in a three-part series from Andrew Jones, director of curriculum at Mill River Unified Union School District in Vermont.

A central feature of Vermont’s Act 77 and the Educational Quality Standards is that students have access to personalized learning opportunities and flexible pathways to graduation. In many traditional schools, there are only a few avenues for students to follow. Without credits, meeting graduation requirements through non-traditional formats is actually easier, as long as those opportunities are tied to certain proficiencies. Through flexible pathways, students are not hamstrung to take specific courses or follow a predetermined course. At Mill River Unified Union School District, we looked for ways to completely rethink what it means to learn and go to school. (more…)

In Real Life: How competency-based systems wrestle with education’s stickiest, most human questions

January 18, 2019 by

This is the introductory article to an eight-part series based on the complex, fundamental questions that practitioners in competency-based systems grapple with “in real life.”

“Why should we educate? What are the benefits that individuals legitimately should expect from education? What are the benefits that society should expect from an educated citizenry…? How can we achieve them?”

Over 30 years ago, Patricia Albjerg Graham penned an article that questions the purpose of schooling and challenges readers to consider how well the design of American public education fits its purpose.  Still today, people working both within and outside the education system question its design, seeking ways to more effectively prepare students for college and career (or whatever is their desired purpose for public education).

Why would people question the design of the education system? For some, it is because the landscape of the American workforce is changing, requiring the education system to prepare students with different skills and abilities than before. Others are propelled by the fact that, despite a rise in public high school graduation rates, too many new college-goers are still underprepared for the next phase and find themselves in remedial courses. In fact, too many find themselves without good postsecondary options at all.

For me personally and for many colleagues who are educators today, we seek change because we know that educators’ daily heroic efforts to reach every child fall short without substantial support from broader systems that configure time, space, and resources in ways that enable educators to know every child and to partner with them and their communities to advance their learning.

If we can admit that change is necessary, the next question is: how? (more…)

Keeping Students at the Center with Culturally Relevant Performance Assessments

July 29, 2019 by

This post originally appeared Next Generation Learning Challenges on June 4, 2019.

Student Presenting Performance AssessmentPerformance assessments provide a critical space for students to reflect on and share their personal stories and their identities as learners.

“All instruction is culturally responsive. The question is: To which culture is it currently oriented?”
—Gloria Ladson-Billings

At the heart of the shift toward more student-centered models of learning and assessment is an understanding that learning is socially embedded and that the broader communities that students exist within matter to their learning. Emerging findings from brain science reveal that students’ cultural contexts, in particular, are fundamental to their learning. These findings are not new. They are built upon a rich history of research highlighting how central culturally responsive pedagogy is to providing all students with a high-quality education.

One powerful means of bringing students’ culture into the classroom is through culturally relevant performance assessments. Performance assessments center students’ identity and experiences by asking them to show what they know and can do through multidisciplinary projects, presentations of their learning in front of a panel, and reflections on their educational trajectory. At their core, such assessments provide a critical space for students to reflect on and share their personal stories and their identities as learners.

Lessons From Hawai’i: Defining “Cultural Relevance”

Representatives from the Hawai’i education department and the Hawaiian-focused Charter School (HFCS) network recently shared the ways their state policy and the work of the HFCS school network work together to support culturally relevant assessments that center Native Hawaiian culture in schools across Hawai’i. During a fall 2018 convening in which leaders from HFCS came together with practitioners from districts across California to share lessons from their respective performance-assessment systems, one of the biggest questions that emerged was: What would it look like to employ culturally relevant performance assessments in diverse contexts in which there are many cultures with which students identify?

Charlene Hoe—founder of the Hakipu’u Learning Center in Hawai’i—responded that “culture” is defined by a student’s local context or history: It may include students’ personal racial or ethnic background but it is also defined by their neighborhood, their school, and their home. Making an assessment “culturally relevant” in diverse contexts means allowing students to draw connections between their learning and their direct, daily experiences with the world, and treating those experiences as an asset in the classroom.

Cultural Relevance in Diverse School Systems: Lessons From California

Given this understanding of cultural relevance, it is possible to understand how to design and implement culturally relevant performance assessments to serve diverse student populations. One such context is the California Performance Assessments Collaborative (CPAC), a Learning Policy Institute initiative. CPAC represents policymakers, researchers, and a professional learning community of districts, networks, and schools across the state of California working to study and advance the use of performance assessments. CPAC was founded to help build systems of assessment that more equitably serve all students within diverse student populations; this concern for equity has been a central organizing tenet of CPAC since its inception.

The work of CPAC is being led by school districts such as Los Angeles UnifiedOakland Unified, and Pasadena Unified, which are using performance assessments to operationalize their respective district profiles of college-, career-, and community-ready graduates. These district visions call for students to move beyond the mastery of academic-content knowledge to reflect on their learning, cultivate social-emotional skills, and become civically engaged within their communities.


Shaking Up the Classroom — Wall Street Journal Covers Competency Education

March 11, 2014 by
LUSD website

LUSD website

In case you missed it, the Wall Street Journal had a story yesterday on competency education. In Shaking Up the Classroom – Some Schools Scrap Age-Based Grade Levels, Focusing on Mastery of Material, Stephanie Banchero reports on her visit to Lindsay Unified School District.  I talked with Stephanie at one point because she couldn’t find any critics of competency education — you can see in the article the best she could find is that there is a strong emphasis on those deeper learning skills and fears that traditionally underserved students may not benefit.  I do think we need to know our critics and listen to them so that they can help us spot implementation issues quickly.

The article is below — and if you want to know more about Lindsay, check out the blog posting on my site visit.

Shaking Up the Classroom
Some Schools Scrap Age-Based Grade Levels, Focusing on Mastery of Material


March 10, 2014

LINDSAY, Calif.—There are no seventh-graders in the Lindsay Unified School District.

Instead, in the “Content Level 7” room at Washington Elementary, 10 students, ages 11 to 14, gather around teacher Nelly Lopez for help in writing essays. Eight sit at computers, plowing through a lesson on sentence structure, while a dozen advanced students work on assignments in pairs. (more…)

What’s New in Competency Education

June 16, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.54.23 AMThere seems to be more reports, articles and advancements in competency education than ever before.  Periodically we’ll put it all together for you in a blog to make it easier for you to just stop by to do a quick catch up.

  • Lindsay Unified School District has released a video Transforming Education about their personalized, performance-based system.  I really appreciated the extended cut. (FYI next opportunity to visit LUSD is October 3rd).
  • Marzano Research Laboratory is releasing a book on High Reliability Schools. Competency education is the fifth and highest level. It’s on my summer reading list.
  • Education Achievement Authority’s Burns Middle School is highlighted in Ed Surge Low-Performing Detroit Middle School Eliminates Grade Levels, Goes Blended. In partnership with Matchbook Learning, EAA implemented a blended, competency-based model. The article points out that Buzz allows “unstructured blended learning” in which students and teachers can make choices that make the most sense to them. It also explains how the concept of self-paced isn’t quite accurate: Though work is self-paced, Ms. Parker also reports that students work together to get each other farther. “Kids want to be higher. They band together to work harder,” she says. Finally, you can hear a new language emerging — leveling up.
  • You can get up to speed on how to think about technology in Roadmap for Competency-based Systems: Leveraging Next Generation Technologies developed by Council of Chief State School Officers and 2 Revolutions.
  • The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools is starting to look at competency education. See their report. The League is made up of districts that have made substantial progress in implementing blended learning. They  are now becoming interested in taking the next step to competency education.  As they move forward we’ll learn a lot more about how to best implement blended learning in competency education and where there might be misalignment.
  • The Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching has updated their 50 state scan of course credit policies.
  • Nellie Mae Education Foundation created a video What is Competency Education?

And in higher education:


Student Agency is What Counts

December 15, 2015 by
Keara Duggan

Keara Duggan

This post originally appeared in the Next Generation Learning Challenges Friday Focus Newsletter.

Over the past few months, NGLC has been pushing the field of next gen learning on questions of how we measure success. As Andy Calkins asked a few weeks ago in this column: How do we gauge students’ progress in developing those competencies required for the 21st century? This question resonated with me. I believe that without students understanding how they’re learning, what they’re learning, and how they’re progressing, it’s impossible to empower students to truly own their learning.

As a Senior Consultant at Education Elements, I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of schools and districts around the country to design and implement blended and personalized learning models. Three years ago when I started in this role, the national focus was on blended learning and the integration of digital content and tools. I’ve seen a dramatic shift over the past eighteen months as teachers and leaders think more deeply about how to develop student agency and student reflection as a core part of redesigning their classroom and school models. Student ownership, agency, and choice are all critical to the personalization process. (more…)

How Next Gen Learning Can Support Student Agency, Part 2

March 1, 2016 by

Students2This post is adapted from the Next Generation Learning Challenges‘ Friday Focus.

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m sharing with you more resources, information, inspiration, and awesomeness that came out of the December #NGLCchat on Student Agency. In this issue, I will tackle the ways that the next gen learning strategies of blended learning, competency-based learning, and project-based learning can support student agency. It’s based on what I learned from the guest experts and chat participants.

(The last Friday Focus synthesized what student agency is and what it looks like.)

Blended Learning & Student Agency

The participants view blended learning as a strategy that leads to student agency when it gives students choices about what, where, when, and how they learn. Blended learning leads to student agency when it…


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