Competency-Based Learning Puts Students at the Center. It’s Perfect for Now.

Edsurge

Then COVID-19 catapulted education into crisis mode, forcing her and all students and teachers into at-home learning situations across the world. Older students employed as essential workers, at grocery stores and warehouse distribution centers, lost significant learning time.

4 important lessons our school learned about competency-based learning

eSchool News

In previous generations, the “organize and sort” method, typified by an A-F grading scale, was the most thorough manner of assessing students given the lack of unifying systems that could track and chart specific skill development. Through competency-based education, we can now provide more relevant, personal assessment for each student and use that assessment to truly develop an equitable model of student success—as long as we are willing to accept innovation.

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The liberal arts have a bright future in competency-based learning

The Christensen Institute

Although competency-based learning in higher education is arising based on the need for more affordable programs that prepare students for the workforce, by no means is competency-based learning inherently synonymous with the demise of the liberal arts. Second, online, competency-based programs don’t have to be about training students for a specific job; they can offer a more general liberal-arts program.

Competency Based Learning: How Flipped Mastery Makes CBL Possible

Turning Learning On Its Head

In 2011, a group of educators met at the Competency Based Learning Summit. During that Summit, the leaders identified five key tenets of Competency Based Learning (CBL): Students advance upon mastery. Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students. Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. Not planning their competencies and objectives clearly.

New to Competency-Based Learning? Here're Five Ways to Assess It

Edsurge

Principal Chris Huckans believes that competency-based education (CBE) is one of the keys to the school’s success. Huckans says that Bishop Hall’s use of the Brightspace learning management system provides students with highly personalized learning pathways, which “allow them to innovate and experiment.” He adds, “Kids are allowed to learn at their own pace, and can learn experientially.” Portfolios also highlight learning’s natural progression.

Utah and Florida sign bills to support competency-based learning pilots, but now the real work begins

The Christensen Institute

This month, governors in Utah and Florida signed bills supporting the creation of competency-based education pilot programs in districts and schools. Utah’s bill, SB 143 , creates the Competency-Based Education Grants Program, which allows local education agencies to apply for grants to pilot competency-based education programs. Treat competency-based learning as a whole-system—rather than one-off—reform.

Moving past summative vs. formative assessments

The Christensen Institute

As competency-based education (CBE) gains momentum in higher education, the market is becoming increasingly crowded with companies and institutions working on competency-based platforms and online approaches to CBE. But assessments are the crux of a competency-based approach. But this isn’t simply a matter of focusing on formative assessments instead of summative. In education, we call it “summative assessment.”.

Combining Online Courses With In-Person Supports, ‘Hybrid Colleges’ Unite

Edsurge

There is mutual interest in learning from each other, when the models are different, what is driving student success?” Hybrid college programs are a symbiosis between online higher ed institutions and nonprofits that provide place-based support systems.

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Goodbye ABCs: How One State is Moving Beyond Grade Levels and Graded Assessments

Edsurge

The program—short for “no grades, no grades”—is hallmarked by the schools shifting to a more competency-based assessment structure and removal of grade levels. Mary Earick, project director for NG2, says the purpose of the program is to create more flexible learning pathways for students through “competency-based multiage schooling,” which allows students to move on to new objectives only after mastering others. “[NG2]

Competencies vs. Skills

A Principal's Reflections

Over time they have evolved beyond just communication, collaboration, creativity, and global awareness to include entrepreneurship and emerging technological proficiency. After looking at what I had on the slide and listening to my analysis, she commented that I was (or should be) referencing and explaining competencies, not just skills, which students will need. Competencies outline "how" the goals and objectives will be accomplished.

3 Tips for Developing and Assessing Soft Skills: First, Take Off Your Emotional Armor

Edsurge

Based on my years of experience as a child therapist—helping young people build stronger, sturdier, more purposeful and hopeful lives—I would define what Jamal brought to the room as. In my role as the Chief Culture Officer at Valor Collegiate Academy , I’ve been wrestling lately with how to quantify, develop, and measure competencies like vulnerability in children (and adults) so that experiences like Jamal’s can become the rule rather than the exception.

Standards-Based Grading: Hope vs. Reality

Edsurge

Standards-based grading (SBG)—or competency-based grading—measures student progress relative to specific learning standards. Of course, a grading overhaul like this requires a huge shift in a school’s approach to teaching and assessment.

Tackling the education-to-employment gap

The Christensen Institute

Earlier this year, CareerBuilder and Capella Learning Solutions announced an innovative partnership, RightSkill , to bridge the growing talent gap in the United States. Bringing Capella’s competency-based learning—in which learning becomes the constant and time becomes the variable—together with the real-time labor data of CareerBuilder offers a new way to build a supply of job-ready talent. Matt: Capella has been digital and competency-based for two decades.

Inputs do not guarantee outcomes: Getting online credit recovery right

The Christensen Institute

The Los Angeles Unified School District is back in the news for its use of technology, this time for its online credit-recovery courses. In a recent editorial , the Los Angeles Times called into question the district’s record-high 75 percent graduation rate, as it said that the figure was based in part on LA Unified’s dependence on its less-than-rigorous online credit-recovery courses. Actual learning—not a piece of paper—should be the goal for every student.

Competency-based legal education

The Christensen Institute

In thinking about how best to prepare for that changing world, law schools need to consider how competency-based educational models can be employed to advance educational objectives for students seeking to enter the market for legal services. In this new environment, law schools need to reimagine themselves as educators for students interested in learning about the legal services sector, not simply those seeking a JD.

Sal Khan: Test Prep Is ‘the Last Thing We Want to Be’

Edsurge

He’s started working with more schools and districts—instead of reaching students mainly at home—and has partnered with assessment groups, such as the College Board and, most recently, the NWEA for personalized test prep materials. The latter group administers the MAP Assessment—a test designed to measure growth in reading and math. A teacher will cover a topic for a couple of weeks and then there’ll be an assessment.

Will eliminating the “F” eliminate bad school design?

The Christensen Institute

Indeed, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, just 37 percent of high school seniors are prepared for college-level math and reading. By design, we move students forward grade by grade based largely on the amount of instructional hours they have spent in class—dubbed “seat time”—rather than their mastery of academic skills and content. As our research has shown, technology can make these wholly new models feasible at scale.

How Improving Student Feedback and Teaching Data Science Restored Our Classroom Culture

Edsurge

The learning environment was tense, my students were angsty and I didn't have the information or strategies to make it better. Little did I know that by 2019 I would find a way to apply the data science strategies I learned as a geologist to bring joy and engagement back to my classroom. I came away from the institute eager to try inquiry-based instruction in my class during the 2015-16 school year.

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How to Bring ‘Mastery Learning’ to the Classroom

Edsurge

One of the most popular topics these days in education is mastery learning—the idea that the pace of a class should match what each student is ready to learn, as a way to ensure they’re really grasping material. But it can be hard to show educators what mastery learning looks like in practice since it doesn’t follow a traditional pacing schedule. EdSurge: When you were teaching, you were known for this mastery-based, flipped learning approach.

Building a Bridge from 21st Century Learners to 21st Century Earners

Edsurge

It does mean, however, that entrepreneurial skill sets will move from the margins associated with a rare percentage of the population to the mainstream—as more professionals tap into these competencies in their job searches. Children will need to master skills and competencies relevant to this emerging world of work. We often think about competency-based learning as an input—a method of instruction that is mastery based and not time-based.

Four Ways to Redefine Parent Teacher Conferences—With a Little Help from Ironman

Edsurge

As a former New York City high school teacher, I know that parent-teacher conferences seldom provide parents with enough time to process what their children learned, what they’re interested in, and what needs improvement. I credit technology—and superheroes. Talk about what's being learned, not what's missing. And from what we’ve gathered, teachers are constantly looking to empower students to take control of their learning.

Why a K-12 Operating System is the Next Step in the Evolution of Edtech

Edsurge

Little did I know this experience would eventually propel me to help develop a school operating system that tackles technology issues plaguing educators and supports them with more opportunities to offer individualized instruction. This competency-based system made sense; if students were chronically absent, holding them accountable to a pacing calendar would prove futile. Abbas Manjee's standards-based Algebra 1 scope and sequence. Learn more about Kiddom Academy.

Curriculum Design is Emotional Work—This Teacher Makes It Easier

Edsurge

competency-based (a.k.a. standards-based) school for at-risk youth, pre-packaged curriculum and assessments offered very little flexibility for personalization or modification. Plus, the available content was designed around how much time I’d spend teaching it versus what I actually needed to get students adept at learning the topic at hand. This was at odds with my experience, because I relied extensively on edtech for assessments.

Inputs Do Not Guarantee Outcomes: Getting Online Credit Recovery Right

Edsurge

The Los Angeles Unified School District is back in the news for its use of technology, this time for its online credit-recovery courses. In a recent editorial , the Los Angeles Times called into question the district’s record-high 75 percent graduation rate, as it said that the figure was based in part on LA Unified’s dependence on its less-than-rigorous online credit-recovery courses. Actual learning—not a piece of paper—should be the goal for every student.

Beware of taking flexibility a step too far

The Christensen Institute

At its best, online learning can catalyze new heights of flexibility—in path, pace, place, space, and teacher-student interactions—amidst an education landscape that has long looked more like an industrial production line. In turn, schools can start to move away from seat time and fixed-date assessments, hallmarks of the antiquated factory-model school. That’s not to say that some students and families aren’t seeking a mix of home-and school-based learning.

What a Summer Prototype Taught Us About Measuring Quality in an Unbundled Education System

Edsurge

In the summer of 2016, a community of educators, research design partners, and over 150 teens and young adults in Colorado engaged in a bold experiment to rethink how quality and impact might be measured in a modernized system of learning. In this relatively small, short-cycle prototype, the lessons we learned were significant. Why focus outside of formal learning time for our design work? Framework for the Future of Learning.

How One High School is Helping Students Craft Eportfolios People Will Actually Read

Edsurge

A significant number of K-12 teachers looking to move away from student success measures that focus on standardized testing and grades are turning towards eportfolios, online websites showcasing projects tied to learning objectives. Our school’s original eportfolio program became these brochure websites that no one went to,” says Lisa Gottfried, New Technology High School’s digital and interactive media teacher, in an interview with EdSurge. “I

The Risks and Rewards of Getting Rid of Grade Levels

Edsurge

Back then, the Chinese language program at Latin had begun piloting a proficiency-based model, which is structured differently from a traditional grade-based model. The proficiency-based model is closely related to competency-based learning, where students are grouped with those who are closest to their language abilities, regardless of age or seat time. It’s OK, as long as you learned from this.” “But, Ms. Wang, why am I in this class?”

The Four Biggest Challenges to Implementing Maine's Proficiency-Based Diploma

Edsurge

Maine has long been an innovator in education, stemming back to the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Now all eyes are on our corner of the country as we transition from a traditional seat-time high school diploma to a proficiency-based diploma. I believe the new proficiency-based diploma requirements are yet another beacon of educational leadership and innovation, one that will alter our education system in meaningful and lasting ways.

We Know SEL Skills Are Important, So How the Heck Do We Measure Them?

Edsurge

SEL and MESH competencies. Whatever you call them, a growing body of research suggests these non-academic, social-emotional competencies deserve our attention. Studies have linked social-emotional learning (SEL) programs with improved focus, stronger relationships, lower anxiety and higher test scores. Even American political parties, at-odds about everything, agree SEL competencies play a vital role in the economic success of today’s students. Soft skills.

Looking to Ditch Traditional Grades? Here’s How to Get Stakeholders On Board

Edsurge

For Scott Looney, there’d be no hesitating: He would have every school switch from traditional grading to competency-based evaluations. Rather than a traditional GPA, the group imagines a credit-based transcript , with links to artifacts that demonstrate students’ mastery across different competencies. Whether they call it competency-, mastery-, or standards-based grading, the movement aims to improve students outcomes sans As, Bs, and Cs.

These Red Flags Signal Competency Education’s Three Biggest Misconceptions

Edsurge

I’ve continued to go back to Tony Wan’s piece, Why There’s Little Consistency in Defining Competency-Based Education. I’m thrilled he wrote it, as I think it holds up a mirror to all of us working in the world of competency-based education about where we can do better. If you don’t understand that the traditional system of education is designed to rank and sort students, then it’s really hard to understand competency-based education.

Why There’s Little Consistency in Defining Competency-Based Education

Edsurge

Enter competency-based learning (CBE), a term introduced in the 1970s when the U.S. This is the standard definition of competency-based education that most educators, policymakers and researchers largely agree with: a system in which students progress based on their demonstration of mastery of a certain concept or skill. In practice, competency-based education resembles the thousand-flower garden. What role does technology play?

Don’t Teach Grit. Embed It.

Edsurge

But what has been left unsaid is how our current system of education works systematically against instilling these skills in students, and how we could naturally embed the development of grit in students—in a way that doesn’t talk explicitly about grit—by moving to a competency-based learning system. In today’s system, time is held as a constant and each student’s learning is variable. As a result, they develop major holes in their learning.

Why Continuing Education Programs Are Poised to Become Hubs of Innovation

Edsurge

Because of their mission and relative autonomy on university campuses, continuing education programs—in the form of extension schools and schools of continuing and professional education—are well-positioned to experiment with different student-centered learning models, create innovative programs that generate new revenue streams, and build bridges with industry partners. MOOCs are not the only ones that offer on-demand learning today.

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