Ideas, Influence, Impact

Posts tagged ‘KnowledgeWorks’

We’re Getting Closer

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!


If the Ladder is Leaning on the Wrong Structure …

“If the ladder is leaning on the wrong structure, it doesn’t really matter if you can climb it.”

At ASCD’s Leader 2 Leader (L2L) Conference this past weekend, participants were presented with an educational forecast by the KnowledgeWorks organization that demonstrated a significant shift in the workforce and our educational system.  Based on the presentation, a group of us educators decided to focus on what new system of education would be needed to fairly prepare our students for this new workforce and new society.

The group decided that a new system of education needed to focus on personalized learning, a system that supports anytime, anywhere, any pace, any pathway for student learning.  We believe that there needs to be greater student voice and student choice in student learning.  Students must have a greater say in what they learn, how they learn, how they demonstrate what they have learned, and how they know that they have learned.

Our current system of education does not adequately prepare students for the non-academic skills of flexibility, adaptability, problem solving, collaboration, and metacognition that are increasingly more important in the workforce.  Our 20th century education system is not the right structure to which we should be leaning our students and educators.

KnowledgeWorks provided the L2L participants with several new educator roles, roles that align to the guiding purpose of a personalized learning education system.  As we explore these new roles within a new paradigm of education, ASCD has a unique opportunity to lead this transformative change in educating our students.  Leading a massive overhaul of the country’s education system will not be easy, and ASCD has the reputation, resources and resolve to move this work forward for the betterment of our students.

First, ASCD has an opportunity to communicate a sense of urgency. KnowledgeWorks explained that the changes in society and workforce are already occurring, yet we still have an educational system that is not fully preparing students for these changes.

Second, ASCD has devoted significant time and resources to the Whole Child Initiative, making it one of the cornerstones of its work.  ASCD can review the five tenets of the Whole Child to demonstrate alignment with a personalized learning education system.

Third, like its work with Whole Child schools, ASCD could select pilot schools or districts across the country that can be leaders in the personalized learning education movement.  ASCD could create a network of support and collaboration that would allow the pilot schools to share resources and build collective capacity.  Further, ASCD can partner with foundations and businesses to provide funding to collect and share out this evidence of innovative practices.  ASCD affiliates could even help by sharing names of schools with ASCD and providing support closer to the field.

Fourth, a major area of leadership for ASCD could be with a new teacher development and evaluation system for personalized learning.  With increasing focus on teacher performance, ASCD could provide guidance into new teacher roles, feedback systems and evaluation tools to support the growth of educators in a personalized learning system.  This would be a major step to overhauling the current system.

Finally, ASCD can use its established social media tools – Twitter, ASCD Edge, and website – to share resources, establish collaboration networks, and highlight new practices.  The use of social media tools will allow for faster and broader dissemination of ideas and information, causing more educators to be involved in this important work.

We have the opportunity to “lean our ladder” on a new, more robust, more personalized educational system.  I hope ASCD helps lead the way for the betterment of our learners.

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