It was an extraordinary opportunity to attend the 2014 iNACOL Symposium. I was able to learn so much about competency-based education, personalized learning and blended instruction. Throughout this conference, one key them continued to arise – “change the mindset”. Session after session spoke about the need to change the mindset of teachers, of administrators, of parents, of community members and of policymakers. For our system to truly be transformed, each of these groups need to think differently about what is learning and how we develop a system that fully supports it.
Every group, that is, except students. Students were lauded as willing and able and excited to learn in a new system, a new ecosystem. Students are ready for this new system. From this international conference, and from my interactions back home, I know there are teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and policy makers already with mindset to change the system. In fact, they have not only the mind for it, they have the heart for it. They have the fire for it. And, with each day, we gain more skills for it.
From the WILL set to the SKILL set, we are ready. We need to be. My sons and daughters – and yours – need this transformed system of learning NOW.
This past Friday, I had the opportunity to have a phone conversation with Jesse Moyer and Lillian Pace from KnowledgeWorks. Jesse is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Lillian is Senior Director of National Policy. Jesse and Lillian wanted to speak with me about Iowa’s role in supporting competency-based education (CBE). I was thrilled to speak with them for well over an hour to share what is happening in Iowa, as well as to learn what is happening nationally.
Lillian mainly works in Washington, DC to support efforts at the national level. She remarked that there is a lot of great work happening at the state levels, so there needs to be a focused effort at the national level. KnowledgeWorks has been working recently to influence language in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act.
Lillian remarked that competency-based education should continue to grow from the ground up, but there are federal barriers that will hinder its growth. KnowledgeWorks is working to help legislators at the national level understand what is CBE, as well as to provide legislation that encourages its growth. Currently, the strategy is to advocate for innovation so CBE can flourish organically, instead of demanding a mandate that might unintentionally stifle its development.
KnowledgeWorks has partnered with iNACOL to develop a series of white papers to support the implementation of competency-based education. The first paper focused on the federal accountability system, which is written so tightly around time-based metrics, that it hinders CBE. The second paper focused on current innovations support be the federal government – such as Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation. The papers found a strong trend that those organizations that received those funds tended to support personalized learning, a parallel to CBE. Two more papers are scheduled to be released soon – one focusing on the multiple pathways for student success and the other on specific recommendations to change federal policy to better support CBE.
My conversation with Jesse and Lillian also focused on the good work occurring in Iowa – the recent legislative funding for CBE work and pilot CBE districts, the CBE district readiness survey, the Iowa ASCD CBE conference, the Iowa legislative CBE task force, and innovation already occurring in many local districts.
Our work is being supported at the national level, and it is being recognized at the state level. Every day, through passion, purpose and partnership, we are getting closer!