Tag: performance-based

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

May 11, 2012 by

Are we all talking about the same thing when we say competency-based education?  This question first occurred to me this past December when I had the opportunity, as West Wind Education Policy’s program associate, to work with REL Midwest and the Iowa Department of Education to organize the Research to Action Forum on Competency-based Education in Des Moines.  The conference included national experts, teachers, administrators, students, higher education representatives, policy-makers, and Iowa Workforce Development.  You can watch videos of the event and learn more about what is happening in Iowa as districts explore CBE at the online professional collaboration site we created. (more…)

Juggling Frogs

May 10, 2012 by

Read the first post on Spaulding High School.

Organizational change is always a case of juggling frogs. As I continue to reflect on my visit to Spaulding High School in April, I’m increasingly humbled by the enormous change they are involved in and the amount of respect and thoughtfulness that the administration, teachers, and students offered one another. Here are a few more insights into the competency education practices being introduced at Spaulding High School.

Competencies and Staff Cohesion: A number of different issues emerged as we talked about the scheduling of courses and their design. Spaulding is using Understanding by Design to help them design courses. (more…)

Blowing Up K-12?

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It seems sacrilegious, really, but I am advocating that we do away with the K-12 grade level structure in education.  Perhaps because it has been how we have organized our schools since we evolved from the one room schoolhouse back in the nineteenth century, the grade level structure is taken for granted. You notice that reform agendas do not include doing away with grade levels. We have vouchers, charters, extended day, extended school year, evaluating teachers and principals if we are not firing them, privatizing schools or closing them and reopening them under new management, but no talk of doing away with grade levels. If anything, there is renewed interest in having students repeat grades as a backlash against social promotion.

We talk about thinking out of the box but no one talks about thinking out of grade levels. (more…)

Spaulding High Holds the Spirit of Competency Education

May 9, 2012 by

Read more about Spaulding High School.

Traveling to Amherst, Massachusetts, for the Proficiency-Based Pathways meeting and a visit to Spaulding High School in Rochester, New Hampshire, was one of those profound reminders of the enormously beautiful variation in our country in terms of culture, race, and ethnicity—and, of course, geography—as the greening woods, running rivers, and sparkling forsythia nearly blinded my New Mexico eyes.

As you probably know, New Hampshire has transformed credits from seat-time to competency in all of its high schools. Spaulding’s principal, Mr. Rob Seaward, understands the spirit and value of competency education and is working with teachers to get it into every classroom. They are in the first year of the change and are still working out the kinks, so it’s way too early to look for results. However, here are just a few of the highlights of the site visit. (more…)

Is a Standard a Competency? (Part 1)

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Read Part 2.

Here are links to NH math competencies and ELA competencies

The answer simply is ‘no’.  Standards represent the ‘what’ of school—what we need to know, and what we need to be able to do.  These standards may be identified as essential or important and may be mapped using local, state, or national frameworks.

When New Hampshire mandated that a high school student could only gain credit for a course when mastery of the course competency was demonstrated, teachers had to write course competencies. It forced the question: What is a competency? (more…)

Welcome to CompetencyWorks: Why We are Here

May 1, 2012 by

Over the last two years, I have been on a journey to try to make right what I think is one of the biggest policy issues driving inequity in the United States – the K-12 education system which is driven by seat-time.  This journey is to re-design K-12 education around student learning and mastery.

The policies around seat-time limit how and when a student can learn, allow students to move to the next grade level with huge gaps in their learning, and limit extended learning opportunities.  Why should it matter whether a student learns in school, out of school, online, in the girl scouts or at a museum?  What should matter is that teachers are involved in assessing students’ mastery of learning at advanced levels.  So, rather than measuring how empty the “bucket” of knowledge is – let’s work on filling the bucket with world-class knowledge and skills to empower kids from all backgrounds for a lifetime of success.  Competency education, not seat time, is a critical design requirement to enable next generation learning environments. (more…)

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