What’s New in Competency Education? Sal Khan, Jeb Bush!

July 21, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 8.37.59 AMHere’s more news about competency education. Please notice we are starting to cover higher education a bit more as we know that many readers come to our website looking for information. Also, please know that if we include any information about products and services it is only to help you have a sense of what’s happening, not an endorsement of any kind.

Talking About Competency Education

  • As described in redefinED, Sal Khan spoke at the National Charter School Conference, highlighting what would would happen if we built a house in the same way we educate children.  He ended by saying, “There’s always been this tension when you have standards, when you have high-stakes exams and all that, where, gee, maybe the standards are good, but does it end up teaching to the test? Does it somehow end up taking creativity away from the classroom? The idea is that if teachers can feel good, if their students finish the mission and they’re getting reports on where all the students are, they don’t have to go into that mode, and it will hopefully liberate more class time to do more Socratic dialogue, to do more projects, to do more inquiry.”  (If you haven’t read The One World School House it’s a fun and easy read – just perfect for summertime reading lists)

Competency Education Included in Reports and Recommendations

  • Nellie Mae Education Foundation (the foundation that took the lead in establishing CompetencyWorks) has released a reference guide Putting Students at the Center that defines the four tenets of student-centered learning: personalized learning, anytime/anywhere learning, student-owned learning and competency-based learning. Competency education is described as: “Students move ahead based primarily on demonstrating key learning milestones along the pathto mastery of core competencies and bodies of knowledge (as defined in deeper learning). Tasks and learning units might be either individual or collective; and students have multiple means andopportunities to demonstrate mastery through performance-based and other assessments. Eachstudent is assured of the scaffolding and differentiated support needed to keep progressing at apace appropriate to reaching college and career and civic outcomes, even when unequal resourcesare required to achieve a more equitable result.
  • The Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet released a report Learner at the Center of a Networked World. Recommendation 1, Action Step B is Support pilots for new competency-based learning approaches that recognize knowledge, skills and competencies achieved in or outside of schools.”  In their post on the release of the report, Jeb Bush and Rosario Dawson write, “Students must have access to interoperable learning networks that allow them to earn credit for what they have learned regardless of where they learned it — whether from a museum, a library, an after-school program, a massive open online course (MOOC), or in the classroom. In these competency-based models of learning, what you know is more important than where you go. These credits should be recognized by schools and institutions of higher education as well.”
  • Southern Regional Education Board included Competency-based Learning in its 10 Critical Issues in Educational Technology. A word of caution — the way it is written it suggests that using technology will help you develop competency-based environments.  However, using technology doesn’t mean a school is competency-based.

Higher Education

  • Inside Higher Education reports that “The U.S. House education committee on Thursday advanced a package of legislation that would boost federal support of competency-based education, overhaul how cost information and other data is provided to prospective college students, and require more counseling for federal student loan borrowers.” H.R. 3136, Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2014 “would reserve $1 million from funding for the Department of Education to authorize the Secretary to select up to 20 eligible entities to participate in demonstration projects related to competency-based education. Competency-based education focuses on measuring student achievement through an assessment of a student’s knowledge and skills rather than by the completion of clock or credit hours.”

  • Blackboard and the American Council on Education (ACE) are jointly investing in research around competency-based education and the use of digital badges in an effort to help institutions better understand how skills-based approaches can help more learners get a college degree and achieve their employment goals, the organizations announced today. The first phase of the research, which is already underway, will create a common vocabulary around competency-based education to enable a broader understanding of the increasingly popular learning approach. The second phase of the research will address barriers to adoption, promote structured dialogue, and help determine the best way for digital badges to record, certify and accumulate evidence of a learner’s achievements. Components of the work will be available in July 2014 and the full findings will be made public later in the year.
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