Advancing Competency Education at a State Level

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend a webinar hosted by CompetencyWorks about what states are doing to advance the practice of competency education.  Presenters included Susan Patrick, President and CEO of iNACOL; Jason Glass, Director of the Iowa Department of Education; and Don Siviski, Superintendent of Instruction at the Maine Department of Education.

The webinar, which was based on CompetencyWorks’ latest briefing paper, Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education, provided a great conversation about what Iowa and Maine are doing to implement competency education in their districts.  As I wrote in my last post, Understanding Competency Education, Maine has been working to advance mastery education in their state for quite some time.  Like most states interested in competency-based learning, the conversation in Maine began with questions about student-centered learning and eventually shifted to learning being the constant and everything else being a variable.

Unlike Maine, the competency conversation is rather new in Iowa.  Last year, the Iowa Senate established a task force to examine competency education and what it might look like in the state.  The task force released a preliminary report in January of this year and will release further recommendations to the Iowa Legislature in November 2013.  The task force’s preliminary recommendations include:

  • Developing common language and vision for competency education;
  • Conducting a review of current policies, administrative rules, and education and para-educational practices that may block optimal implementation of competency education;
  • Establishing a research partnership with an institution of higher education to monitor and evaluate the work and to share findings.

I’ll end this post with one of my biggest take-aways, a reading list provided by Don Siviski, for those making the shift, or thinking about making the shift, to competency education.

Jesse Moyer

Written by: Jesse Moyer

Jesse Moyer is the Senior Director, School Development with KnowledgeWorks. He is a believer in public education working and passionate about family, sports and fishing.

2 thoughts on “Advancing Competency Education at a State Level

  1. Thanks, Matt, for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to checking them out. Alaska is one state I haven’t delved deeply into yet. I’d be really interested in learning more about what you found out there. Thanks again!

  2. Hi Jesse,
    I am a district administrator in Iowa and serve on our state’s competency-based education task force. Maine, Oregon, New Hampshire and Alaska are four states some of our task force members have visited and/or interacted with educators to learn more about CBE. One of the aspects of CBE we’re wrestling with as a task force is the idea of going “faster” (learning content in a shorter amount of time) and/or going “deeper” (cross-disciplinary demonstration of learning). In my personal reading, faster tends to be the theme most often connected with CBE. I wrote up a short blurb on CBE as faster or deeper that may illustrate it a bit better:

    Looking forward to learning and sharing more in the future!

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