Why competency-based education is challenging centuries of tradition

It’s been nearly four centuries since the first formal classrooms appeared in what would eventually become the United States. The earliest example of a public school was the Boston Latin School, founded in 1635, the first to relieve families of having to educate their kids at home in the “three R’s”—reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Despite massive changes in society and technology since colonial times, one thing hasn’t changed much: the way we teach, test, and pass our students along to the next level—or into their adult working lives.

Most students today still take the same lessons from the same teachers in the same format—and they must pass the same tests to graduate. Of course, higher education allows for variations in courses of study, but within each classroom or curriculum, the content, delivery, and assessment are fixed. Over the course of their 12-year education (plus two, four, or eight more in university), students ingest, memorize, and practice the materials presented, then take tests to receive a certificate to prove they “learned” it.…Read More

Aperture Education Wins 2021 EdTech Breakthrough Award

Aperture Student Portal, which supports social and emotional learning in high school, is named “Best Competency-based Education Solution”

Charlotte N.C. (June 9, 2021) — Aperture Education, the leading provider of researched-backed social and emotional learning (SEL) assessments for K-12 schools, was named a winner in the EdTech Breakthrough Awards for its high school SEL solution. The Aperture Student Portal was named “Best Competency-based Education Solution” in the awards, which recognize the top technology companies, solutions and products in the education industry. In all, more than 2,000 nominations were submitted. The full list of winners can be viewed at https://edtechbreakthrough.com/2021-winners.

The Aperture Student Portal is an online SEL platform specifically designed for high school. It guides students through taking the DESSA (the leading strength-based assessment for social and emotional competence) and provides them with immediate feedback to help engage students in the growth of their social and emotional competencies such as self-awareness, personal responsibility, and decision making. The platform helps students create their own SEL growth plan based on research-based strategies and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) goals—all through a gamified, mobile-friendly system. The platform also allows educators and administrators to gain insights to deliver the right interventions to the right students, track student progress with longitudinal reporting, and serve as advocates and support team members to aid students in their personal goal setting. …Read More

5 things to help move us closer to competency-based education

Despite educators’ genuine enthusiasm, competency-based education may be slow to spread to U.S. schools due to sizable barriers, according to a report published Oct. 22.

The report, “Show What You Know: A Landscape Analysis of Competency-Based Education,” features an overview of the current status of competency-based education in the U.S. produced by Getting Smart and reflections from XQ on some of the more complex transition issues. The report was commissioned by XQ.

Educators are trying to meet students’ unique learning needs with competency-based models, which let students advance based on skill mastery rather than seat time.…Read More

5 trends for seeding CBE growth

As more and more school systems across the country explore competency-based education (CBE), we need to be attentive to the processes that will actually allow such innovations to thrive.

Current time- and age-based accountability measures have a stronghold on schools, even those trying to break away from the factory model of education. As a result, we would predict that time-based metrics and incentives could thwart many efforts to reinvent learning in a competency-based manner. School systems need to heed this warning and take pains to protect innovative competency-based approaches from the tug of status-quo pressures and performance measures.

How can schools disrupt the traditional mold if they must remain accountable to that mold? According to our research, systems can successfully nurture disruptive efforts, like CBE, with new performance metrics by establishing autonomy beyond the reach of traditional metrics and accountability. Otherwise, schools will find themselves innovating on top of their existing model—perhaps making that existing instructional model more efficient or differentiated—but not wholly competency-based.…Read More

4 important lessons our school learned about competency-based learning

The rigors of an interconnected, global society have changed the way in which schools need to approach student success. 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.

But times have changed. In the last 10 years, a school’s ability to dig deep into the specific skill sets of students and provide meaningful information about their strengths and challenges has grown dramatically. 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.

Of course, for schools to make the jump to competency-based education, they must adjust their pedagogy and learning systems in a manner that emphasizes student-centered and human-centric learning practices. If the data that competency-based education provides is used as simply a greater and more robust means of sorting out “winners and losers,” then the many benefits—from personalized instruction to equitable classroom models—go out the window. We must adjust our own collective sense of meaningful pedagogy in concert with the change in technology to take advantage of what we’re capable of doing now and steer it in a manner that benefits kids.…Read More

5 critical considerations for CBE and CBL implementation

As schools begin to invest in competency-based education (CBE) and higher ed institutions set up competency-based programs, two of the big questions often unanswered become “is their focus on education or on learning?” And “what’s the difference?”

Educators can argue that the characteristics of CBE call for increased attention to learning: clearly defined competencies, flexible time structures for competency mastery, and teacher and faculty roles for mentoring learners, to name a few.

But to what extent is academic culture, even in CBE programs, actually changing to be more learner-centric? How often are educational business decisions made with clear consideration of learners’ perspectives? Are academic credentials simply assumed to represent relevant learning, or do they actually document and verify competencies with evidence of learning? Are we meeting the needs of lifelong learners?…Read More

Chalk & Wire unveils MyMantl learning recognition network

As educational institutions and employers alike are moving away from macro-credentials, Chalk & Wire, a higher education assessment platform, unveiled MyMantl, a first-of-its-kind Learning Recognition Network.

Available this fall, MyMantl will provide a way for learners, educators, employees, and employers to recognize and showcase a lifelong journey of learning.

For the first time, learners–beginning in high school–will be able to track their academic and professional achievements and own their portfolio collections of learning, training, mentorship and digital credentialing. In addition to portfolios, MyMantl will offer digital badging tools, competency-based education program designers and job tools.…Read More

The latest push for competency-based learning

As personalized learning becomes more in-demand, more educators advocate for competency education

competency-basedStudent-centered learning is at the forefront of many education reforms today, as stakeholders realize that personalizing learning is key to student success. And competency-based learning–the idea that students advance based on concept mastery and not time- or grade-level restraints–is a key part of student-centered learning.

Supporters maintain that education’s design as it is today, which centers around time and curriculum, doesn’t support students the way they need to be supported in order to prepare for a competitive global economy. Critics wonder if all student groups are well-served by the model, and have said there can be too much testing.

“Competency-based education is really foundational for true student-centered learning and personalized learning,” said Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), speaking during an April 28 web briefing.…Read More