This post was written by Terrance Sullivan, former KnowledgeWorks director of state policy.
April 10 was an exciting day for personalized learning in Michigan. KnowledgeWorks joined the Michigan Competency Consortium (MCC) in Lansing, Michigan, for a day of comprehensive discussions with educators and stakeholders around personalized, competency-based learning and its future in the state.
We partnered with MCC to facilitate targeted discussions with leaders who are currently implementing or planning to implement personalized, competency-based learning, allowing participants the opportunity to discuss policy issues related to this work. Informed by our education policy work in other states, the focus group breakout sessions were geared around discussing existing or perceived existing barriers around three topics:
- Assessments, accountability and graduation rates
- Time-based structures (seat time and calendar issues)
Participants discussed the numerous issues they face in their efforts to truly personalize education in their respective districts. Groups identified gaps within assessments and accountability in Michigan that were deeply impacted by teachers needing to follow time-based structures. Groups also recognized that innovative funding models would be needed to support any changes.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the group was able to prioritize the issues they felt needed to be elevated to department leadership as well as devising a plan to put forward a robust policy agenda based on the discussions. We were later able to discuss their concerns with leaders from the Michigan Department of Education. Department members seemed very receptive, elevating that some of the things superintendents want to do are a possibility now when they engage the already existing Innovation Council within the Department of Education.
District and department leaders in Michigan have all of the tools necessary to engage in robust communications, to move toward a strong policy agenda and to innovate in ways that benefit all kids at all levels of learning. As we debriefed at the airport, awaiting our various flights to different destinations, one destination was clear: we are excited to return to Michigan and we all look forward to seeing the amazing work that they are sure to do.