competency-based learning

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

Over winter break in 2015, I found myself scouring the internet for career alternatives that would take me out of the classroom. I was in my fifth year of teaching at Forest Ridge, an independent all-girls school serving students in grades 5-12 in Bellevue, Wash., and I was feeling isolated in a room with students who didn’t seem to want to engage with my class, despite all my efforts to bring enthusiasm and passion to my work.

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

Nearly ten years ago, I started my career in education as a math teacher at a new alternative high school serving over-age, under-credited youth in New York City. My students were labeled “at-risk” of dropping out because they were 16-21 years old and previously unsuccessful in high school. Many suffered from chronic absenteeism, caused by factors such as homelessness, family responsibilities, and/or incarceration.

The Risks and Rewards of Getting Rid of Grade Levels

“But, Ms. Wang, why am I in this class?” asked a 9th-grade boy on the first day of school. This was about three years ago and it was a first day of sorts for me as well. I had just transitioned back into the classroom at Latin School of Chicago from a job in publishing and this was not the kind of question that I had prepared myself to answer. 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.

How AR and VR Prepare Students for Jobs of the Future (and Save Districts Money)

Imagine a high school student in your district. Her class is learning about muscles, but instead of watching a video or reading about it in a book, she can move a virtual arm and see an exposed bicep muscle contract. Are engines her thing? She can safely experiment with a virtual torque wrench in a mechanics class. It sounds powerful, doesn’t it? Not to mention effective.

These Red Flags Signal Competency Education’s Three Biggest Misconceptions

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. However, I think the title may be a bit misleading.

Distinctly Equitable: How This Chicago School Makes Competency-Based Learning Work

Does competency-based education hold the key to providing an equitable learning opportunity to every student? Count Connie Scalzetti, a middle-school teacher at CICS West Belden in Chicago, among the believers. As she puts it, competency-based learning “gives students the chance. Equity isn’t everyone getting the same thing. It’s everyone getting what they need. Allowing students to move on when they’re ready—or revisit something when they need support—is giving everyone a fair chance at being successful.”

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

Millennials are expected to change jobs or employers four times in their first ten years after college graduation. By age 40, they’ll likely have shown up for work with between 10 and 15 employers. This means that our future workforce should expect to have seasons of work, non-work, as well as periods of looking for work in between. Consider the implications this has for the nature of work in adulthood.

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

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.

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

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. Unfortunately for many educators using the medium, the audience they hope to garner—university admissions officers and potential employers—simply aren’t clicking.

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

Grit. Open. Disruptive innovation. Powerful ideas that seem simple in print quickly take on new, and potentially divergent, meanings as they are applied to policy and practice. Some terms, including “open,” get appended to specific use cases. Others become “bastardized,” in the words of Clayton Christensen, who coined “disruptive innovation.”

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