Last week was kind of a big week for competency education but in an understated way. Is that possible? I hope so, because I’m writing it.
The first thing that made it a big competency week is the approval of Maine’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver. On the surface, this doesn’t have a ton to do with competency but if you dig deeper into the Pine Tree State’s waiver application, you’ll find that it’s actually very important. Maine’s new accountability system under the waiver, you can find the full application here, contains several accountability factors including achievement data and a school accountability index. One of the five components of the school accountability index is graduation rate. Maine’s graduation requirements are proficiency- (or competency-) based. This means that, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time any sort of federal accountability system has included a measure of competency.
The other big competency-related event also comes from Maine. State school chief Stephen Bowen in leaving Maine’s DOE to serve The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as Director of Innovation. According to CCSSO’s press release, “In this role he will direct work in emerging innovative practices in education, including digital learning, competency based learning, and open educational resources…Bowen will also oversee CCSSO’s Innovation Lab Network (ILN), a group of states brought together by CCSSO taking action to identify, test, and implement new and transformative ways to structure the public education system….” Having someone with so much practical experience implementing a competency-based, or in Maine’s case a proficiency-based, system working with other states trying to move in the same direction can only mean good things for the competency-based movement.
Like I said, kind of a big week for competency education but in an understated way….