Think of your students working at their own pace. Teachers are overwhelmed as they try to meet the needs of all their students. With our current one-size-fits-all system, many children are being left behind and dropping out.
A competency-based system means students address standards in the way that meets their needs instead of waiting to learn something when it comes up in a chapter in a textbook or when it is being taught to the whole class. Competency-based pathways are a re-engineering of our education system around learning: a re-engineering designed for success in which failure is no longer an option. Competency-based approaches build upon standard reforms, offering a new value proposition:
By aligning all of our resources (in schools, the community, and online) around student learning to enable students to progress upon mastery, our country can increase productivity in the education system, while simultaneously raising achievement levels overall and reducing the achievement gap.
[Source: Competency-Based Pathways]
So a competency-based system accelerates the pace of learning based upon a student’s abilities, needs, and interests, while other students may require additional support and alternative types of instruction until they master the content. The current system expects proficiency of a standard before advancement while a competency-based system monitors progress in meeting a standard. Competency-based design principles [shortened] from Competency-based Pathways:
Design Principle 1: Students Advance upon Mastery
- Students advance by demonstration of mastery, not age.
- Students are appropriately challenging.
- Students are evaluated on performance.
- Some students complete courses at different rates than others.
Design Principle 2: Explicit and Measurable Learning Objectives Empower Students
- The student and teacher relationship changes.
- Learning becomes modular.
- Learning goes beyond the classroom and can be anytime, anywhere.
Design Principle 3: Assessment Is Meaningful and a Positive Learning Experience for Students
- Schools focus on formative assessment.
- Teachers collaborate to develop understanding of what is an adequate demonstration of proficiency.
- Skills or concepts are assessed in multiple contexts and multiple ways.
- Attention on student learning, not student grades.
- Summative assessments are adaptive and timely.
Design Principle 4: Students Receive Rapid, Differentiated Support
- Students progress at their own speeds and students that are proceeding more slowly will need more help.
- Personal learning plans identify learning styles, context, and interventions that are most effective for each student.
- New specialist roles may develop to provide high quality interventions when students begin to slip behind.
- Online learning can play an invaluable role in providing feedback to teachers on how students are proceeding.
Design Principle 5: Learning Outcomes Emphasize Include Application and Creation of Knowledge
- Competencies are designed so that demonstration of mastery includes application of skills and knowledge.
- Assessment rubrics are explicit in what students must be able to know and do to progress to the next level of study.
- Examples of student work that demonstrate skills development throughout a learning continuum will help students understand their own progress.
- Lifelong learning skills designed around students needs, life experiences, and the skills needed for them to be college and career ready.
- Expanded learning opportunities are developed for students to develop and apply skills as they are earning credit.
Businesses, Universities, Community Colleges, and Technical colleges are looking at competency-based systems for career bound students and job seekers. There is a need to address and accept existing knowledge and skills people have no matter what age.
What about providing a system in K-20 for learners to challenge a course or test? This could actually be a way to move people through a competency-based system where life skills and background knowledge mean something. It will be interesting to follow innovative practices where schools take risks to address each students’ needs and learning styles.
It is time to “think out of the box” where failure is not an option anymore. We cannot leave one child behind. Every child is important. This is their future and right now — today — isn’t looking very promising for them. Schools have to change. We cannot look back anymore and say “if it was good for me, it’s good for my child.” That doesn’t work anymore. The world is different. We tried the “one size fits all” now for a long time. We have more children left behind than ever.
Let’s look at personalizing learning and competency-based system models. How about learning modules that are available when a student needs an answer or a question? How about teachers as personal learning coaches?
I am going to showcase different schools and innovation centers where the focus is on learning and meeting the needs of each student. Are you with me?
I submitted an idea for the Grand Challenge about Designing Creative Learning Environments. Check it out. Vote. Comment. Leave a comment here.