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Tag: state policy

Two More States Moving Forward to Competency Education

January 16, 2013 by

In addition to Iowa, two other states are releasing reports regarding how their states can move forward (I’ll add the links as soon as I can):kentucky

Awarding Credit to Support Student Learning: A Report to the Governor recommends how Pennsylvania can develop credit flexibility.  It outlines parameters and principles of a credit flexibility policy to be managed at the local level. There are some interesting building blocks in Pennsylvania including Keystone exams that are required end-of course exams in high school. Competency education doesn’t require end-of-course exams but it is certainly one way to maintain quality control. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is researching an alternative flex-credit program for CTE.

The Kentucky Department of Education is releasing Competency-based Education:  Helping All Kentucky Students Succeed.  Kentucky, part of the Innovation Lab Network supported by the Council of Chief State School Officers, convened more than 150 multi-sector participants.  The report explores why competency education is valuable, highlights districts and schools moving in the direction towards competency-based models, and responds to all those frequently asked questions (a great resources for any other state or district preparing materials).

Both of these states were part of the National Governors Association’s initiative on  Awarding Credit to Support Student Learning with the support of the Mott Foundation.

Momentum for Competency Education in Iowa

January 15, 2013 by
Sandra Dop, Iowa Dept of Education

Sandra Dop, Iowa Dept of Education

Iowa’s Competency-based Instruction Task Force has released its preliminary report.  State leadership in Iowa has been calling for competency education for over three years.  This engaging report  provides recommendations for how the state should move forward.  With a meeting being organized in June, momentum is building in Iowa.

One of the questions that comes over and over again are what are the ways we should be thinking about the metrics that could be helpful in guiding implementation and benchmarking districts and schools.  It’s a tough question and needs a thoughtful approach.  The Iowa report starts to give a glimpse at some of these process and outputs as it reviews the findings from researchers that visited the two districts charging forth on competency education, Spirit Lake and Muscatine (see Elizabeth Sturm’s post, a senior at Muscatine High).

In Muscatine researchers looked at grades, the distribution of students based on where they were on learning progressions (remediation, intensive interventions, and acceleration) and opinions of teachers.

The district and community were increasingly concerned about a graduation rate that fluctuated below the state average. Following implementation of the pilot projects, zero percent of students earned Ds or Fs in competency-based education classrooms, compared to 38 percent of all students in the 2011-12 school year. Additional data points expand the positive impact of competency-based education:

  • Six percent of the students engaged in learning contracts or short-term remediation to reach proficiency prior to the end of a term;
  • Four percent of the students needed intensive remediation, which required additional time beyond the term;
  • Three percent of the students were able to accelerate their learning through content or a course;
  • Teacher support for the methodology was rated at 85 percent, as evidenced through a district-wide survey following building presentations in the fall of 2012. (more…)

Oregon Gets an A+ for its New Grading Policy

January 1, 2013 by
Artemio Paz, JrChair, OR State Board of Education

Artemio Paz, Jr
Chair, OR State Board of Education

Diane Smith from Oregon’s Business Education Compact forwarded to me the Student Achievement, Grading and Reporting policy passed in December by the Oregon State Board of Education and scheduled to take effect July 1.  This is a great example of rulemaking by forward-thinking state education leaders.

The policy is chock-full of interesting ideas with powerful implications. Diane pointed out two major implications:

  • Parents will be informed whether or not their child is proficient in grade-level standards.
  • It institutionalizes the competency-based practice of maintaining academic performance reported separately from behavior factors.

A couple of others jump out as well:

  • Students will have multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery of academic content standards.
  • Districts must respond to students who have not met or have exceeded the academic content standards with access to additional services and other public school or alternative educational options.

In addition to this policy advancing Oregon’s proficiency-based efforts, it looks like a very powerful policy tool for parent advocates to demand that their children get the help they need right now – not by retaining students but getting them the help they need right now.

The policy is included below.   (more…)

Kentucky Summit on Competency Education

November 1, 2012 by

Lt. Governor Abramson

Earlier this week, people across the state of Kentucky convened for a Summit on Competency Education sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education and the National Governors association.  I thought it was worth pulling out how they defined competency education as it both succinct and reinforces the relationship with student-centered and personalized learning:

Competency-based education is a method that focuses on mastering specific skills or standards rather than completing course work over a specific period of time. It offers opportunities for all students and is student-centered. This type of education features personalized learning, which takes different learning styles into account by providing different avenues to learn the same content.

Competency-based education can motivate passive students who do not learn well in traditional classrooms because they do not see the curriculum as relevant to their needs. Students can earn college credit while still in high school, and they learn how to learn, a skill they need throughout life.

Topics at the Summit included the role of expanded learning opportunities, the role of career pathways to accelerate student learning towards college and career readiness and higher education. Scheduled speakers included:

  • Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson
  • State Senator Jimmy Higdon
  • Rose Colby, author of Off the Clock
  • Paul Leather, New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner of Education
  • Tom Shelton, superintendent of the Fayette County school district
  • Lu Young, superintendent of the Jessamine County school district
  • Jay K. Box, chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System
  • Robert L. King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
  • Elizabeth Grant, chief of staff in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education
  • Michael Cohen, president of Achieve

We’d love to hear more about the Summit and next steps for Kentucky! Or if you want to get a sense you can read the twitter feed.



Update on Iowa

July 24, 2012 by

Iowa is advancing towards competency education. In a memo released July 16, 2012, Jason Glass, Director of the Iowa Department of Education outlined the statutory changes affecting schools based on the 2012 legislative session.

It leads with a discussion on SF 2284 on Competency-Based Instruction.

The State Board of Education will be adopting rules to allow a school district or accredited nonpublic school to award credit toward graduation based upon demonstrated competencies rather than “seat time.” The school will determine the assessment methods used to demonstrate competencies. There will be no need to request a waiver from the Department. (more…)

Portability and Access

July 6, 2012 by

David Domenici at the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings has been visiting state juvenile justice leaders this spring exploring how they are providing educational services in youth detention facilities.  He has been identifying barriers to ensuring young people who are in the juvenile justice system have access to education, an absolutely critical component for reducing recidivism.  In last month’s newsletter he describes the time-based Carnegie unit’s “especially pernicious impact of this framework on young people in the juvenile justice system, who are older and significantly credit deficient.”

In this month’s newsletter David goes on to highlight two challenges young people face when they are transitioning back from secure settings: (more…)

Personalizing State Policy with Extended Graduation Rate

June 27, 2012 by

One of the key elements of personalization in education is providing flexibility for students who need more time.

Yet, only 12 states have embraced the extended-year graduation rates initiative that provides incentives for districts and schools to serve those students who need more time to graduate. I am wondering what impact this is going to have on districts wanting to apply for RTT—will (more…)

Growing CBE in Iowa

May 29, 2012 by

In Iowa, we know how to grow things.  Plant the seeds, add a little sunshine and pretty soon, you can feed the world.  We grow a lot of corn, a lot of cows, and, lately, we are growing Competency Based Education (CBE) as well.

I have been a part of planting a few CBE seeds.  The ground for growth is fertile in our little school district.  In 2010, our community supported a 1:1 technology initiative, voting to put a MacBook Laptop in the backpack of every kid in town, grades five thru twelve.  That decision was like opening a sci-fi portal to the planet.  Suddenly, students in rural (more…)

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…)

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