Rose Colby is the author of Competency-Based Education: A New Architecture for K-12 Schooling and co-author of Off the Clock. She is a Competency-Based Learning and Assessment specialist and serves as a national advisor and contributor to CompetencyWorks.org. Rose is a Fellow at 2Revolutions where she coaches schools and districts nationally in developing prototypes for the future of learning in competency education.
I’m fortunate to have known Rose for many years and have been following her work with competency-based education. I’m also lucky to have presented with Rose at iNACOL last October and will be presenting again at the next iNACOL Symposium in Nashville, TN. Below are a few excerpts from her podcast.
About your family
The Colby family has been in transition. We have two daughters who live in New York City. We also have three grandchildren. I have lived in New Hampshire all my life, but we wanted to be closer to our kids so last year we made a move to Connecticut on the New York border so we get to see our family on a regular basis.
I didn’t come through the regular pathway for teacher preparation. I was a high school biology and chemistry teacher and came from industry. When I was teaching, I was not aware I was doing some innovative things in my classroom. I was just teaching in the way I thought science should be taught at the high school level. I had more of a project-based learning orientation to my teaching. I went from teaching at the high school level to the science department head to assistant principal at our high school. Then I became the associate principal at the middle school where I became principal at Mountain View Middle School for seventeen years. I am proud to say that we were a school of excellence twice while I was principal.
Competency Education Consultant
In 2002, I became involved with a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project where I was able to work with superintendents and principals across the state working on student-centered learning projects. I became a Competency-Based Learning and Assessment specialist and a national advisor and contributor to CompetencyWorks.org. In the briefs from CompetencyWorks, the move is now going to personalized learning and competency-based education.
CompetencyWorks. iNACOL. “Meeting All Students Where They Are Report. 2018
Maybe your introduction to competency-based education is to personalize standards-based teaching. Competency-based is a higher evolution of performance. When students have agency, they will be able to show you they what they learned. The teacher’s role is more of a coach. Then on the competency end, those are the standards of performance around how the student is engaging personally in their learning. We really need to empower our teachers around the idea of personalized, competency-based learning. We need to ask them “what does proficiency look like?”
Competency-Based Education: A New Architecture for K-12 Schooling
I worked with many schools and districts that wanted to go on “shopping tours” to see what competency-based education looked like. From doing this work, competency-based education looks different based on the infrastructure. This is not a one-size fit all model. We are in the beginning stages of this work and needed some kind of frame to work from.
We are not assessing the standards; we are assessing the performance. This means we cannot use traditional grading which is very subjective. We as an industry need to create validity and reliability in the framing of the evidence we are expecting from students’ performance as they move through K to 12.
iNACOL Symposium 2017 Keynote
Profile of a Graduate
In the end, I always sum it up with a visual. Think about the kid walking across the stage to get that handshake for graduation. We have prepared that student for this special date in their lives. In the competency-world in other professions, students do not get that handshake until they demonstrate with performance criteria that they are ready for the next phase of their lives. Competency-based education is not time-based. You get that diploma when you have the evidence that demonstrates you have met all the academics and the personal success skills you need for your future. In a true competency-based system, we are looking at both of these, not just the academics.
“We have essentially been trying to fix the students so that they fit our conventional architecture of grade-level determined curricula. But the system can no longer be fixed. We should ask ourselves if the time has finally come for us to transform or fundamentally rebuild the system that supports student learning.”
C-BEN Network of Colleges and Universities
The traditional university pathway is not working for most students. Graduation rates are pretty low for students to be able to graduate in 4 years. In fact, the graduation rate in New Hampshire is 40% and that is high compared to other states. Most universities are going to be moving toward a competency-based model to stay solvent. Southern New Hampshire University offers 120 competencies for their associate’s degree. Those competencies can be done on your own time and at a cost of $5,000. Students can demonstrate that they meet the competencies even from life experience, projects that they are doing, seminars, and courses they are taking. All of those things together lead to the evidence they need for graduation. A good number of colleges have been threatened with closing because the traditional model was not working. They are now looking at a competency-based approach.
Here’s the link to Karin Hess’s book that I mentioned,
Rose Colby is the author of Competency-Based Education: A New Architecture for K-12 Schooling (Harvard Education Press) and co-author of Off the Clock: Moving Education from Time to Competency (Corwin 2012). She is a Competency-Based Learning and Assessment specialist and serves as a national advisor and contributor to CompetencyWorks.org.
Rose is a Fellow at 2Revolutions where she coaches schools and districts nationally in developing prototypes for the future of learning in competency education. Rose has been the Principal in Residence of the New England League of Middle Schools; Principal in Residence, NH School Administrators Leading with Technology Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a former secondary school principal and high school Biology and Chemistry teacher. She has presented at national conferences and forums on competency-based learning and digital learning.
For the past 10 years, Rose has had the honor of working with many teachers and school leaders across the nation to develop and design a new learning system. Competency education requires a clear vision, bold leadership, and educators who are active learners.
- Twitter: @rose_rosecolby
- Website: http://www.competencyed.com/
- 2Rev Fellow: https://www.2revolutions.net/rose-c/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rose-colby
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rose.colby
- Plymouth State University, Graduate Teaching Lecturer: https://www.plymouth.edu/graduate/faculty/education/rose-colby/
Competency-Based Education: A New Architecture for K-12 Schooling https://www.amazon.com/Competency-Based-Education-Architecture-K-12-Schooling/dp/1682531007
Off the Clock: Moving Education from Time to Competency with Fred Bramante
Webinar: CBE Webinar July 2016
Redesigning Systems of Assessments for Student-Centered Learning (iNACOL)
Epiphany Learning I am ME Podcast with Rose Colby
5 part series on CBE ( focus was on leadership and technology) for Motivis Learning:
Fresh Look at an old way of teaching K-12. District Administrator. Goral, Tim. 1/11/18 https://www.districtadministration.com/article/fresh-look-old-way-teaching-k12
For all of the Rethinking Learning podcasts with Barbara Bray and the inspirational guests, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
Go to this page for resources, questions, and more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY.