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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“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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Becoming an Effective Educator of English Learners: Job-Embedded, Competency-Based Professional Development for All Teachers

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Ask any public-school teacher across the country about their greatest challenge. They are likely to tell you it is a lack of confidence in their own ability to work with students in their classes who may not speak English, sometimes representing vastly different cultures. The ExcEL Leadership Academy recognized the need for a better approach to professional learning that would prepare all teachers to work with English Learners. (more…)

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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…)

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Building Our Assessment Literacy

October 23, 2018 by

This is the fifth book in the series Conversations with Authors About Competency-Based Education.

I have never been a teacher. Thus, I don’t write very much about instruction and assessment as my knowledge base is about the size of a raindrop compared to the sea of knowledge that teachers tap into every day. I simply don’t have enough knowledge to know where to focus or the types of questions to ask.

However, my knowledge has been growing over the past two years as I ask every educator I can, “How do you meet students where they are? How do you make sure they are progressing and gaps are being repaired?” My little raindrop became a small puddle of knowledge after reading Using Formative Assessment To Enhance Learning, Achievement, And Academic Self-Regulation by Heidi L. Andrade and Margaret Heritage (recommended to me by Paul Leather).

We talk a lot about how we need to build our assessment literacy among schools, districts, national organizations, and policymakers. We aren’t going to get beyond the age-based summative accountability policies without deeper knowledge that can feed our imaginations of what might be possible. This book will certainly help…and it is super easy to read even for someone who doesn’t have background in teaching. The elegantly composed vignettes bring the ideas to life. The discussion in the book raises core concepts, describing what they are as well as problems of practice that wouldn’t be as beneficial to students. (more…)

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How Can States Transition to Student-Centered Learning?

October 22, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at ExcelinEd’s EdFly blog on August 14, 2018 and has been updated to include links to the first three briefs.

The proliferation of innovative, personalized and mastery-based models in schools, districts and states across the country demonstrates that completely prohibitive policy barriers, thankfully, do not exist. Our work has shown us that most states already have policies in place, (e.g., waivers) that can help schools implement new models—though we have also seen these opportunities remain largely underutilized or misunderstood. (more…)

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Competency-Based Education: The Break from Tradition that Our Schools Need

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At this year’s iNACOL 2018 Symposium, I will have two opportunities to share my thoughts and experiences after spending a decade leading a New Hampshire high school through a transformation from a traditional to a competency-based system. The first will be in a Sunday morning pre-conference session entitled “Learning from School-Based Practitioners: Building a Successful Competency-Based Education System in your District/School.” There, my colleague Jonathan Vander Els and I will share resources and tools from our 2017 Solution Tree book entitled Breaking With Tradition, the Shift to Competency-Based Learning in PLCs at Work. On Tuesday morning, Jonathan and I will join our good friends: competency educational specialist Rose Colby and Ace Parsi of the National Center for Learning Disabilities for a breakout session entitled “Leveraging Competency Education to Promote Equity for ALL Students by Prioritizing Academic and Personal Competencies Supported by Effective Leadership, Personalization, and PLCs.” (more…)

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Nov 7 Webinar on Meeting Students Where They Are

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CompetencyWorks Webinar Series: Meeting Students Where They Are, November 7 from 3-4 ET. Join Chris Sturgis and Antonia Rudenstine and Sydney Schaef from reDesign to talk about how you can develop a student-centered approach. Register here.

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

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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…)

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The MTC Network: Reinventing How Students Prepare for College, Career, and Life

October 21, 2018 by

How do we prepare students for future careers we can’t even begin to imagine? This is a question we hear a lot in education today. Teachers most commonly tell us that they are seeking to educate students who think creatively and critically, take agency in their own learning, and solve problems by often challenging assumptions. They want to prepare them for our world of accelerating change. But, too often, they are confronted with the reality that the traditional transcript, established during the Industrial Age, limits their ability to best serve and represent the students in their care. Although educators serve diverse student populations—from rural to urban communities, from private to public schools—they find more similarities than differences in what effective teaching and learning look like. (more…)

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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…)

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