Tag: getting started

Starting the Competency-Based Education Journey…Again

November 13, 2018 by

I spent 10 years of my career working in a high school that successfully transitioned from being very traditional to one that is now competency-based. Although in reality the work is never really complete, it’s still satisfying to look back and celebrate just how far you’ve come. For those of us in the competency-based education (CBE) trenches, we know that changing the way people think about teaching and learning isn’t easy. It’s difficult to let go of long held beliefs about how schools should operate and how classrooms should be run. The transition to a CBE model also takes time. Educators must commit to years of hard work in order to make CBE a reality.

Not long ago I hit the professional reset button and accepted a position in a district that was just beginning to develop a CBE system. I knew that going back to the “old way of doing school” would be difficult, but like a true CBE educator I was eager to apply what I had learned in my previous setting to a new one. However, no two schools are alike and no transformational journey is the same. (For school leaders who are looking for a prescriptive path or a step-by-step manual to CBE, you’re out of luck, those don’t exist.) Instead of creating a CBE “to do” list, I spent a considerable amount of time observing current practices and gaining an understanding of what was already working. Three themes emerged from my observations that could be universally applied to any school embarking on the path to CBE. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #4: Foster the Development of a Growth Mindset

November 7, 2018 by

This is the fifth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #4 Foster the Development of a Growth Mindset on page 45. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

Think about it: The traditional system of education is built upon the belief that intelligence is fixed: there are smart people and not-as-smart people, there are winners and losers, and there is little anyone can do to change someone’s innate ability or potential.

I don’t believe there is any reason to discuss the psychological insights offered in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success or resources on how to help yourself and students in your classroom develop a growth mindset, as this is a set of research that is becoming embedded in schools across the nation (and possibly globally!). However, if for any reason the adults in your school have not become familiar with and knowledgeable about how to develop the growth mindset in themselves and others, stop reading this article and spend your time on Mindset. This is a non-negotiable step in creating a system of education designed for success for all. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #3: Nurture a Culture of Learning and Inclusivity

November 2, 2018 by

This is the fourth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #3 Nurture a Culture of Learning and Inclusivity on page 41. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

We made a mistake in the first few years of CompetencyWorks. We simply underestimated the importance of culture – the underlying values, beliefs, rituals, and relationships that shape an organization or community – in making the transition to a competency-based system. Many schools and districts are making the same mistake when they focus on the structural or technical changes without first paying attention to culture. In fact, I’d throw out the hypothesis that the districts that couldn’t figure out how to implement proficiency-based learning well in Maine and advocated to terminate the policy of proficiency-based diplomas never took the time to adjust their school culture. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #2: Commit to Equity

October 25, 2018 by

This is the third article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #2 Commit to Equity on page 37. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

The pursuit of quality and the pursuit of equity have a reciprocal and reinforcing relationship. Honestly, I don’t know how you do one without the other. Although people and schools turn to competency-based education for many reasons, creating a more equitable system is inherent in what it means to create a competency-based system. We are trying to design a system in which success is the only option.

It helps to understand why the traditional system needs to change. Our understanding continues to deepen about how the traditional system undermines efforts of schools to create more equitable achievement. (more…)

Customizing a System for Us by Us

October 24, 2018 by

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…)

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…)

Summer Reading on Competency-Based Education

July 11, 2018 by

Is it summer yet? It feels like the rate of districts turning to competency-based education is increasing (I just returned from a meeting in Michigan where I learned of at least eight districts advancing toward a competency-based system), and certainly our rate of learning is. Although I actually hope that everyone disconnect for a few weeks during the summer and not think about competency education, I did promise to provide an updated summer reading list. I’ve organized the list into categories: learning sciences; for newbies seeking to understand what competency education is; building commitment; preparing for implementation; and thinking ahead on the issues and challenges in the field of competency-based education. (more…)

What if Educational Policy Was Shaped by the Learning Sciences? (Part 2)

May 10, 2018 by

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Continuing from the first part of this topic on the implications of the learning sciences for policy, let’s start by looking at three research findings. This is my first cut on this topic and early exploration. In fact I would call these ideas half-baked but I have to start somewhere. It would be a fun collaborative project to draw on lots of great minds. (FYI: I apologize that this is a bit general. To get specific, I’d have to put it in the context of the specifics of policies in a given state.)

Learning is an activity that is carried out by the learner.

(more…)

Recommended Resources on Competency-Based Education from Folks Doing the Work

May 9, 2018 by

Jeremiah Newell, MAEF

Once upon a time, there was only one book, Delivering on the Promise, where you could find an explanation of competency-based education (although they didn’t call it that in Chugach). Now there are more resources than anyone can possibly read while still doing your day job. Below are a number of resources prepared for a panel on the Journey Towards Competency-Based Progressions with Jeremiah Newell, Mobile Area Education Foundation, Chip Linehan, Building 21, and Nate McClennen, Teton Science Schools, at the New Schools Venture Fund Summit. I always value the recommendations from practitioners and want to share them with others. I’ve also added the growing list of books on competency-based education as well. (more…)

What if Educational Policy Was Shaped by the Learning Sciences? (Part 1)

by

When a school starts to make the move toward competency-based education, they start to get serious about what the most effective strategies are to help students learn. This of course gets folks thinking about what the learning sciences can tell us about how to engage and motivate students to put their best efforts forward and how to make sure we are optimizing how our wondrous brains work. But are our policymakers at the state and federal levels who want to improve education doing the same thing? Are they digging into what the learning sciences might tell us about effective policy? (more…)

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