In Iowa House File 2380, the section on competency-based education states, “the rules shall allow a school district or an accredited nonpublic school to award high school credit to a student upon the demonstration of required competencies for a course or content area, as approved by an appropriately licensed teacher. The school district or accredited nonpublic school shall determine the assessment methods by which a student demonstrates sufficient evidence of the required competencies.”
The Iowa Senate education reform bill offers similar language. It is a bold and appreciated step in moving the educational system in Iowa forward. I just have a few questions as we move from a time-based to a competency-based system.
We no longer need the CBE “credit” waivers, correct? That’s an easy one. But . . .
How do we determine how much credit to award a course, if it is no longer measured in time? This is a critical question to me. If teachers and districts are allowed to create credit-bearing courses based on competencies, how will the DE track and monitor the number of courses? This poses a concern for the annual curriculum accreditation process, as a district could ‘inflate’ the number of courses offered by reducing the number of competencies within each course.
It also opens up new opportunities, as we might be able to introduce new courses or mini-course for our students. In a competency-based system, I am excited that we can open up new opportunities of learning for our students. But the issue remains. Until there is a common definition of “competency” and a common process to create courses based on competencies, has the Iowa Legislature opened up a Pandora’s box for the Iowa Department of Education?
I trust we can solve this problem. I just hope others are recognizing it.