Results for: Adams 50

Using Evidence to Enhance Learning

March 4, 2016 by

LibraryThis post originally appeared at Pam Harland’s blog on February 14, 2016.

As librarians, we are good at collecting data: circulation checkouts, database use, number of patrons walking into the library, etc. But how valuable is this information? This kind of data has little to do with our students learning to evaluate sources, gather evidence to support a claim, and ask good questions.

Librarians are reconsidering how to collect data about our school library programs. We all need to ask ourselves:

  • How does my work make a difference in improving teaching and learning?
  • What is my value to the learning culture?
  • How might I use evidence to improve my practice and enhance learning?

When my PLC (a multi-disciplinary grade level team) was tasked to begin collecting data about our practice and instruction I suggested we use our school-wide research rubric (read Pam’s leadership story on how she created a research rubric here). (more…)

What’s New in Competency Education?

June 23, 2014 by

Here is a quick review of some of the great things happening or reported about in competency education last week!

Great Articles on Leading Schools and DistrictsScreen Shot 2014-06-20 at 8.24.23 AM

Districts Beginning the Journey

  • Freeport School District, Illinois: We haven’t heard much about competency education from Illinois even though one of the earliest models was developed there by the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School. (Note: Although YWLCS was highlighted in A New Model of Assessments for the 21st Century it is no longer a competency-based school). In 2014-15 school year, Freeport is going to being to convert grades  K-4 to mastery-based learning.  The superintendent leading this effort is Roberta Selleck  previously from Adams 50.

New Resources and Reports



What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

May 21, 2015 by

ResourcesScreen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.22.41 AM

Achieve released a new paper titled Assessment to Support Competency-Based Pathways which addresses the role of summative assessment, clarifies key assessment challenges, and provides examples and recommendations that are useful to those who wish to design and implement assessment systems to support competency-based pathways.

Additionally, Springpoint is sharing a new set of resources, “Inside Mastery Based High Schools: Profiles and Conversations.” These resources — which include profiles, artifacts, and interview transcripts with school leaders — are drawn from visits to six competency-based high schools last year. Together, they provide a vivid picture of what competency-based learning looks like in a variety of contexts.

Springpoint began this project to address a need for concrete examples of competency-based learning in practice. Given the novelty of this work, they realized that many new school designers know the theory behind competency-based learning but would benefit from a deeper an understanding of its day-to-day practicalities.

They visited the following six schools: (more…)

Streams of Innovation — Update on Federal and State Policy

June 21, 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 8.22.22 AMIt’s getting hard to stay on top of all the advancements and initiatives related to competency education. We used to have pockets of innovation.  I’d say we now have streams of innovation – new school models, new districts starting the transition to competency education, and new policies.  There is definitely a growing worry that policy may be creeping ahead of practice. It’s important to make sure that practice is advanced enough to be able to inform policy – otherwise we risk new systems that reinforce practice where it was yesterday rather than what it is going to look like in three years.

Here is a quick update on some of advancements in policy at the federal and state level:


The Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (S.1094) introduced by Senator Harkin and passed by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) includes a section for a Competency-Based Assessment and Accountability Demonstration (See Section 4909).  The bill would authorize the Secretary of Education to provide eligible entities with the authority to incorporate competency-based accountability into the State accountability system for a period of 3 years.

Catalyzing Competency Education:  You probably know that these major federal reform initiatives open the door to competency-based or mastery-based learning models.  KnowledgeWorks has made it easy to get on top of what the winners of RTT and I3 are doing related to competency education in their second policy brief Federal Innovation Competitions: A Catalyst for Competency Education.  If you work in federal or state policy, I consider it a must read.


What’s New in K-12 Competency Education

October 30, 2014 by

iNCL_CW_logo_K12CompetencyWorks released An International Study in Competency Education: Postcards from Abroad in October. You can access the archived webinar and additional resources here. We also just learned about the Common Ground Project based in Brussels, offering a slightly different way of framing competency education. (See Our Learning EcoSystem.)

Resources and Blogs

And A Winner Is…

December 13, 2012 by

…Lindsay Unified School District!

In case you missed it, Lindsay Unified School District, a top-to-bottom competency-based district, is one of the winners of Race to the Top.

Lindsay, like Adams 50, has been able to sustain their competency-based approach through changes in superintendent leadership, so that they have been able to see results, as kinks in implementation were worked out.   They are one of the examples of where we are seeing competency education make a difference!

I’m going to go find out more and will report back soon.

Congratulations to all the folks at Lindsay!

The Learning Edge

December 17, 2012 by
Laura Shubilla

Laura Shubilla

CompetencyWorks is releasing it’s 2nd issue brief, The Learning Edge: Supporting Student Success in aCompetency-Based Learning Environment today.  We picked the fourth element of the working definition, “Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.  We learned from school visits that we often don’t think about the systems of supports until after the first year when all of a sudden we realize that there are a large group of students that didn’t reach proficiency in their courses.  They had to go back and do mid-course corrections that risked being add-on programming rather than an integrated school design. So we thought it would be a good idea to share what these schools are learning early on as competency education advances in communities across the country. (more…)

Getting Started

January 8, 2013 by
From Maine Ctr for Best Practices

From Maine Ctr for Best Practices

I’ve been getting increased requests from districts and schools looking for consultants or resources to help them get started in the transformation from a time-based to competency-based system.  So I’ve put together a short list of some of the resources that are available to help folks get started (and I’ll keep adding to the wiki as more resources become available). One thing to pay attention to — all the districts that I know about that are getting results were participating with the Reinventing Schools Coalition at some point.

Strategic and Action Plans

Ingenium Schools: A Big City Competency-Based School

June 13, 2013 by
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Ingenium Schools website

Is competency education a reform better suited for rural and outer ring suburbs than urban districts? That’s one of the questions I get asked a lot in the back of the room at meetings. No one ever asks that question during the regular sessions, leading me to think that the question goes beyond the size of the districts, and that the question is actually asking will competency education work in areas of concentrated poverty? Or perhaps, in our racially segregated country, people are using the code word “urban” to mean will it work for African-American students?

It is true that many of the district-wide reforms, supported by the work of the Reinventing Schools Coalition, started in rural districts and have taken hold in rural and suburban districts.  However, we now have a proof point that the very same model is taking root in south Los Angeles at Barack Obama Charter School (BOCS). And they are getting results – last year they had a 150 point gain in one year based on the California Standards Tests.   (more…)

Lindsay Unified — Design Elements

June 17, 2013 by
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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…)

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