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Tag: federal policy

Education Evolving

August 3, 2016 by

Challenge

I had the opportunity to re-read Maine’s strategic plan Education Evolving, which was developed in 2012. The opening essay is so powerful and so beautifully written I just need to share it with the CompetencyWorks readers. I think it will definitely help all of you in districts and states that are developing communication strategies to explain why competency-based education is needed. When I read the core priorities at the end, I once again realized how visionary Maine’s Department of Education was at that time. 
 

The Case for Change

The Challenges We Face and a Way Forward

For generations, the educators in Maine’s public school system have worked tirelessly to meet the educational needs of the students in their care, and their unwavering effort has been evident. Maine’s schools routinely score highly in national rankings of educational outcomes and Maine people have a long history of strong support for their local schools.

However, a new age is upon us. Where our schools once needed to prepare young people for work in a predominantly natural resource-based economy of forestry, farming and fishing, they must now prepare students for a global economy in which many of the jobs of Maine’s past have become automated or moved offshore. Maine’s young people need an entirely new set of skills to succeed in an information-age economy where ideas and innovation move at the speed of light. These new skills are not just related to advances in technology, they are a product of the way society and business work and think: flatter organizations that require more independent thinking and problem-solving; collaboration with people and teams across the aisle and in offices around the globe; and more advanced critical thinking, even in jobs that once were considered manual labor and did not even require a high school degree.

This new age poses a series of challenges that will require us to not simply reform our schools, but to re-imagine them; to build on the successes of the past while creating a model of schooling for this new age.

Challenge 1: Our schools are struggling to accomplish what they need to accomplish

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Department of Education Proposes New Rules for ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Pilot

July 6, 2016 by

essaThis post also appeared at iNACOL

This morning, the US Department of Education (ED) released proposed draft rules for state assessments as part of the continuing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The December 2015 law allows states the flexibility to redesign their systems of assessments around student-centered learning.

In announcing the draft regulations, Secretary of Education John King said, “Our proposed regulations build on President [Barack] Obama’s plan to strike a balance around testing, providing additional support for states and districts to develop and use better, less burdensome assessments that give a more well-rounded picture of how students and schools are doing, while providing parents, teachers, and communities with critical information about students’ learning.”

When the law goes into effect, all states will be able to measure individual student growth, combine interim assessments to produce summative scores, and use adaptive assessments. ESSA also includes an Innovative Assessment Pilot that will allow up to seven states (initially) to pilot innovative systems of assessments with a subset of districts, or to provide local flexibility around the items and tasks they can use from the state system. The draft rules address both the general provisions on assessment and the pilot. (more…)

From Compliance to Continuous Improvement: Accountability, Assessments and Next Generation Workforce with ESSA

June 30, 2016 by

KidsThis post originally appeared at iNACOL on June 7, 2016.

There is an incredible window of opportunity for state policymakers with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). States now have the flexibility to engage in conversations with local communities to reimagine the future of education and redefine what student success looks like.  What do we want our students to know and be able to do in the 21st century? How can we rethink preparation programs to ensure our educators have the skills and competencies for next generation learning models?

How do we create policy alignment and support for student-centered learning? Student-centered, personalized learning requires assessments for learning that are meaningful to students and educators alike in providing real-time feedback on a student’s progress toward mastery of learning goals.  Educators assess evidence of student work for demonstrating knowledge, skills and competency is key to competency-based pathways.  Summative assessments now can be broken into smaller units and offered as interim assessments to validate student learning and provide a quality control.  Combinations of performance assessments, computer adaptive testing, formative assessment and these interim assessments will help frame new systems of assessments to support building capacity in sync with educators’ and students’ needs.

With ESSA passage, states and localities are rethinking how accountability can ensure quality, equity and excellence — and examining how systems of assessments will support continuous improvement.  This includes a new role of states for building capacity and creating space for innovation through more student-centered aligned accountability with multiple measures and exploring new designs for certification and licensure through different models of teacher prep (such as with stacked micro-credentials) to equip the next generation of educators. (more…)

Turning Practice into Policy

June 23, 2016 by

SchoolEvery time I get my head wrapped around ESSA, I learn a little bit more. Partially this is because US Department of Education is also getting its head wrapped around it so they can issue the regulations to guide states in implementing it. There are a lot of people talking about ESSA, and I’ve been hearing some feedback that there is different and sometimes incorrect advice being given.

The team of folks I turn to for my guidance include Maria Worthen at iNACOL and Lillian Pace at KnowledgeWorks, as well as the folks at Center for Innovation Education and Center for Assessment. Truly, they are the ones who are turning all that we are learning about implementation and practice that is shared here on CompetencyWorks into policy. And I always feel better when there are great minds working together.

It’s important to remember that ESSA is an opportunity – a HUGE opportunity. ESSA’s Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority and improvements to Section 1111 enables “states to design assessment systems that incorporate individual student growth, use multiple measures of student learning from multiple points in time to determine summative scores, and use adaptive assessments to measure where students are in their learning.” Read that again slowly and let yourself imagine what’s possible. Adaptive assessments? Could we let students demonstrate their learning based on their performance levels and just be upfront that they haven’t met grade level standards…yet?

iNACOL shared the most recent letter to the US Department of Education, and I think it is worth reprinting. For example, they encourage clarifying “competency-based assessments” to communicate that it is an assessment that supports competency based determinations, rather than a type of assessment. “Competency-based” refers to the grain-size of the content being assessed and the expected level of performance (demonstration) of that content—or more often, a particular system of learning—rather than the type of assessment. That is an important point for all of us building systems, creating new policies and implementing competency-based schools to remember. (more…)

ESSA: From Compliance to Opportunity

May 31, 2016 by

ESSA Compliance to OpportunityThis post originally appeared at Getting Smart on May 25, 2016. 

As mentioned in our previous post, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) not only challenges states with the task of navigating a diminished federal role in education, but provides them with new opportunities to use federal funds to support state innovations.

States can capitalize on the provisions outlined in ESSA to develop and implement strategies that encourage personalization, rigor and excellence. Over the next 13 months, states should work to identify priorities and establish which provisions within the new federal law they can leverage to accomplish their goals.

So, what is in this law for YOUR state?

While there are numerous provisions within ESSA to meet a variety of state priorities, we chose to focus on two big levers: the Direct Student Services provision and the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants.

Direct Student Services

The Direct Student Services provision provides states with an opportunity to use choice and other student services to spur improvement in districts with the lowest performing schools. States may choose to reserve up to 3% of their Title I funds to award competitive grants to districts for the purpose of (you guessed it!) providing Direct Student Services.

To receive funds, districts must apply to the state. Ninety-nine percent of these funds must be distributed to districts, and awards must go to districts serving the highest number of schools identified for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement. But, the state can use the application process to create incentives to use Direct Student Services funds on certain priorities, and the state need not award funds to every applicant. (more…)

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

May 10, 2016 by

What's NewJOB OPENING: Henry County Schools is currently accepting applications for an open Assistant Superintendent position. Learn more about the job opening and read our recent case study on Henry County Schools.

Thought Leadership

School and Program Updates

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ESSA Represents an Historic Opportunity to Advance Personalized Learning

March 24, 2016 by

ESSAI have great news. After fifteen years of operating under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), we finally have the chance to say goodbye to one-size-fits-all assessments, accountability systems that mask achievement gaps, and autopsy-style school improvement strategies. While there were some good things about NCLB, the law also created a long list of policy barriers that made it impossible to build and scale personalized learning environments. The newly-enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), on the other hand, eliminates almost every one of those barriers, gifting the personalized learning community with an historic opportunity to transform the education system.

While enactment of ESSA marks an exciting turn of events, we cannot celebrate until we do the hard work of helping states identify and leverage these opportunities. To this end, KnowledgeWorks recently released a side-by-side tool entitled New Opportunities to Advance Personalized Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This tool provides a brief overview of each opportunity in the law along with a description of how it compares to policies in NCLB and the Obama Administration’s NLCB waiver package. Our hope is that states knit together these opportunities into a comprehensive and compelling vision for teaching and learning that meets students where they are and provides them with customized supports to ensure their success.

Here is a quick overview of KnowledgeWorks’ top ten opportunities in ESSA to advance personalized learning. (more…)

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

by

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.22.41 AMStaying the course for over twenty years, Chugach has developed a personalized, performance-based system that places students at the center and deeply values teaching and teachers. CompetencyWorks released a new report on Chugach School district and how they implemented a personalized, performance-based system to serve the remote villages of Native Alaska. Check out the blog post or download the report here.

Upcoming Event: On April 20, CompetencyWorks is hosting an introductory webinar on competency educationRegister here to attend the webinar and learn how we define competency education, explore how schools are implementing competency education, and discuss why educators and communities want to convert to a competency-based structure.

Resources

Policy Updates

  • Under ESSA, states and localities have a unique opportunity to revisit accountability systems and rethink how they can better serve students, parents and teachers. Check out this article on how state accountability systems impact student learning.
  • The Florida Senate passed a competency-based education bill, which already passed the House by a 31 to 6 vote. The bill creates pilot programs in 4 Florida districts and establishes a laboratory school run by the University of Florida. (This article explains the competency education pilot program in greater detail.)

Schools Making Gains

  • Teachers from seven District 51 schools in Colorado shared with the school board the challenges and victories they’ve experienced since transitioning to a performance-based system.
  • Windsor Locks, a school implementing personalized learning, demonstrated notable gains in math and reading, pulling them from the list of worst performing schools. This news story shows how Windsor Locks empowers students to discover, to design their learning, to apply it, then to document how they learned it and defend that they learned against rigorous standards.

Research Opportunity

The Students at the Center initiative at Jobs for the Future announced a research collaborative that will build, define, apply and share a robust evidence base for student-centered learning. (Read more here.) They announced 2 opportunities: an RFP on student-centered learning, with a preference for basic exploratory research; and nominations for Students at the Center Distinguished Fellows. Two additional opportunities are expected to release in May. Check here for the most updated information.

Follow us on twitter (@CompetencyWorks) and sign up for our monthly newsletter for more information and updates in K-12 competency education.

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

February 29, 2016 by

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.22.41 AMOn April 20, CompetencyWorks is hosting an introductory webinar on competency education. Register here to attend the webinar and learn how we define competency education, explore how schools are implementing competency education, and discuss why educators and communities want to convert to a competency-based structure.

Employment Opportunity: The Innovation School (Salem, MA), a Horace Mann charter modeled after Boston Day and Evening Academy, is searching for a principal. Click here and look for the job posting in Salem.

Event: The First World Summit on Competency-Based Education will be held on August 27-28, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain, as a pre-conference activity. For more information about competency education systems around the world, check out An International Study in Competency Education: Postcards from Abroad.

Thought Leadership

  • School leaders and experts predict ESSA and school demands for personalized learning will dramatically alter K-12 education in the years to come.
  • Todd Rose, a high school drop-out turned faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, discusses his latest book, The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness, with NPR.
  • Jim Dillon, an educator for over 35 years, reflects on student agency and how to spark empowerment in the classroom.

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iNACOL Submits Recommendations to ED In Open Comment Period for ESSA Request for Information

January 26, 2016 by

Image from Wikipedia Commons

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 22, 2106.

ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority pilot program represents a significant opportunity for states to design student-centered education systems that improve equity by personalizing education for all students. We hope the Department considers these recommendations as it designs a pilot program that encourages innovation and quality implementation.

In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing number of states interested in the development of new, student-centered systems of assessments designed to support competency-based learning. But despite their potential to produce meaningful, real-time feedback on student learning, federal assessment requirements have made it challenging for states to design and implement new approaches to academic assessment.

Fortunately, the newly-enacted ESSA law includes a number of key provisions to help states interested in building next generation assessment systems. These provisions include a new Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority and provisions that will permit states to design assessment systems that incorporate individual student growth, use multiple measures of student learning from multiple points in time to determine summative scores, and use adaptive assessments that can measure students where they are in their learning. These improvements will help states design more useful assessments that guide improvements in teaching and learning to ensure all students master the academic knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary for success in college and career.

While we strongly support all of these improvements to the law, the following recommendations address clarifications of intent within the Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority authorized in Sec. 1204 of ESSA. We provide details for these recommendations below in the formal comment letter to ED.

Recommendations include: (more…)

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