Competency-based learning, which allows students to progress at their own pace after they’ve shown mastery of a subject, rather than by their age, is quickly gaining momentum. Already, a few states like New Hampshire, Maine, and Oregon are moving towards implementing competency-based learning models throughout the entire state. What’s more, 40 states have at least district experimenting with the model. But despite this growth, its proponents say federal policies for accountability and assessment are holding the movement back.
KnowledgeWorks, an organization that supports three education-focused initiatives — New Tech Network, EDWorks and Strive — recently released a report highlighting the pain points between federal policy and a competency-based system. The report, Competency Education Series: Policy Brief One [PDF], points out that, although the federal government has supported some aspects of competency-based learning, implementing the new model can be difficult because of federal restrictions.
“The greatest conflict stems from disconnect with the work on the ground and federal accountability and assessment systems,” the report states. “Implementers faced with this disconnect have no choice but to juggle two systems: one required by federal law and one developed by the educators, students, parents, and community leaders committed to successful implementation of competency education.”
CLASHES OVER TIME
Time is the biggest point of contention between the two systems. The federal government measures school accountability as well as student achievement through time-based modules. Seat time and annual test results are the primary ways that the government keeps schools accountable, Continue reading →
How to praise kids: It’s a hot topic for many parents and educators. A lot of the conversation around it has stemmed from studies by Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford who has been researching this specific topic for many years.
“My research shows that praise for intelligence or ability backfires,” said Dweck, who co-authored a seminal research paper on the effects of praise on motivation and performance. “What we’ve shown is that when you praise someone, say, ‘You’re smart at this,’ the next time they struggle, they think they’re not. It’s really about praising the process they engage in, not how smart they are or how good they are at it, but taking on difficulty, trying many different strategies, sticking to it and achieving over time.”
But what some might not know is that this paradox is strongest for girls.
Dweck’s research, which focuses on what makes people seek challenging tasks, persist through difficulty and do well over time, has shown that many girls believe their abilities are fixed, that individuals are born with gifts and can’t change. Her research finds that when girls think this way, they often give up, rather than persisting through difficulties. They don’t think they possess the ability to improve, and nowhere is the phenomenon stronger than in math. Continue reading →
Writing will always be important, but weaving text, images, sound, and presentation together can give students more and different ways to express themselves. Easy-to-use online tools allow students the opportunity to create multimedia projects that demonstrate knowledge and develop useful skills. Check out these new three tools on the scene.
Launched less than a year ago, Meograph lets users create professional-looking multimedia presentations using video, audio, images, text, timelines, maps, and links.
Users create Meograph “moments” by uploading photos, videos, text and add voice narration to accompany the visuals. The moments can also be tagged with location, date, and time. Once all Continue reading →
In this era of global competition, test scores are used as the primary benchmark to call out which countries will produce “successful” students. Knowing that American students are competing against a global pool of the best and brightest has led education leaders to focus more on how they score on international tests compared to students from other countries.
But high test scores don’t provide a complete picture of students’ success, according to Yong Zhao, world-renown author, scholar, and professor of education at University of Oregon.
“Countries that score highly, have students with lower confidence,” Zhao said in his keynote address to educators gathered online for the 2013 Leadership Summit.
That seems counter-intuitive, and Zhao isn’t claiming a causal connection — he questions whether focusing on test scores might inadvertently lower confidence. Zhao has analyzed data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and discovered a negative correlation between high math scores and confidence.
“Countries that score highly, have students with lower confidence.”
Similarly, in his analysis of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test that analyzes how countries score in reading, math and science, Zhao found a negative correlation between attitude and attainment. In other words, the countries with lower scores had students who reported higher interest in the subjects. Zhao analyzed media stories from high scoring countries like Korea and Japan, where students don’t show enough confidence or enthusiasm for subjects in which they excel.
He found the same results when he looked at students’ belief in their entrepreneurial capacity, their ability to start businesses or be self-starters. “Everybody is trying to perfect this system and make Continue reading →
Ask an educator about what it’s like teaching a room full of students, and you’ll likely hear a similar refrain: No two kids learn the same way or grasp concepts at the exact same time.As a result, educators often say they resort to “teaching to the middle.”
More schools are starting to question whether traditional age-based classrooms are the best way to go, and to change the dynamic of teaching to the middle, they’re experimenting with competency-based learning, a system that moves kids along at different paces once they’ve shown they can grasp a key concept of a unit.
Kim Carter, executive director of QED Foundation, is a big supporter of competency-based learning.
“The choice is, do we want an education system that’s obsolete or do we want a system that is valued and creates value,” Carter said. The foundation offers training, coaching and consulting that focuses on student agency, as well as communities of collaboration both inside and outside school. Eventually, she says, that pace should be negotiated, with the student gradually taking over more responsibility for her learning.
“If you are truly going to go competency based and not just have a veneer of change, it will require retooling our systems.”
Competency-based education is gaining momentum across the country. Already New Hampshire and Maine schools have transitioned to the model. Schools in Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota, and many other states are following suit. The Common Core State Standards are also pointing in the direction Continue reading →
For history teachers, videos can be a powerful tool to contextualize events that seem intangible, or too far distant in the past. When it comes to World War II, specifically, this collection of videos put together by YouTube Education’s Angela Lin, bring a variety of perspectives for students to consider. In the mix, the topics cover the geopolitical significance of the war, as well as personal lives affected in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.
This video is one of the many fabulous educational creations John Green creates about all things history. Here, Green explains why World War has made such a lasting impact on the world and what lessons can be learned from its tragedy. It’s the war sped up and is about as funny as war can be.
Created by the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum, this video is the touching story of Sol Finkelstein, a Polish Jew separated from his father at a concentration camp just days before liberation. Not knowing what became of his father and guilt for not protecting him have plagued Finkelstein until his son and the museum helped find some answers.
This BBC Worldwide video remembers the horror that the atom bomb caused when it was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Often the battles fought in the Pacific during World War II are overshadowed by the horrific stories of Nazi concentration camps. This video brings the people who became collatoral damage to the forefront. Continue reading →