Oklahoma is a State to Watch for Competency Education

Topics: Education Policy

By Jesse Moyer

Late last year and early this year, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Board of Education adopted changes to their Administrative Rules that make them a state to watch in the competency education space. I was first alerted to these changes via this CompetencyWorks blog post.

The changes made to Title 210, Chapter 35, Subchapter 27 have to do with proficiency-based (another term for competency-based) promotion. Sent to the Governor and Legislature on March 6, 2014 for approval, these modifications to Subchapter 27 allow for testing for the express purpose of determining proper grade/course placement and credit by examination; earning credit for a class by passing a test, or “testing out,” instead of taking the course. The new rules also allow for different tools (portfolios, theses, projects, performances, recitals, etc.) to be used when assessing for placement or credit. All assessments, performance or more traditional tests, are required to be aligned with district academic standards and accurately measure the demonstration of competencies in the specified subject matter.

Changes to Title 210, Chapter 35, Subchapter 9, Part 7, Standard IV were sent to the Governor and Legislature for approval on December 19, 2013. These alterations outline new graduation requirements in the state. While the content of the requirements are what you’d expect (math, science, social studies, etc.) the new grad requirements are expressed in terms of completion of units (the Carnegie Unit) or completion of “sets of competencies” which are defined as “instruction in those skills and competencies that are specified skills and competencies adopted by the State Board of Education without regard to specified instructional time.” Some of the changes made in Subchapter 9 are a little unclear to me. For instance, I am not exactly sure what the sets of competencies will be, or are, based on. An encouraging sign, at least as I read it, is that the competencies will be adopted by the State Board, which means each district will not be tasked with coming up with their own competencies thus creating a system where a high school diploma means something different in each district.

What’s most interesting to me about these policy changes is that the way they are written leaves room for further policy development that will support competency. I look forward to monitoring the progress in Oklahoma, and other states, as the competency education movement continues to expand.

For more information about KnowledgeWorks’ activities around competency education, visit our new competency education page.