Replacing Seat Time with Competency – Now That’s a Good Idea!

August 3, 2011

In a recent  blog, I mentioned two articles arriving in the same newsletter.  Today I’ll take up the second article “Replace ‘seat time’ with competency, reports says”.


It must be apparent by now, I am an advocate of proficiency-based education, although these days it has many similar labels such as performance-based or competency-based or standards-based learning.  When I started my advocacy almost 40 years ago, it was hard to get anyone to listen.  Now there is so much is going on in the field of proficiency-based education that I can’t keep up with it.  The news in this article is very exciting!  It discusses a new report “Cracking the Code: Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-Based Learning ” by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning…


Their site describes the report:


“The report sets a policy framework for advancing performance-based learning and builds on recommendations made during the 2011 Competency-Based Learning Summit …earlier this year. The report recommends that states begin to transform policies from “rigid compliance” to “enabling policies,” by offering seat-time waivers or “credit flex” policies that allow for the flexibility to offer competency-based learning in K-12…”


Wow!  That is great!


The Executive Summary says the report’s goal is “to loosen the regulatory environment that is

handcuffing the administrators and educators who are ready to move toward student-centered, competency-based models of learning.”




“At the Competency-Based Learning Summit, participants fine-tuned a working definition of

performance-based learning, described below:

  • ƒStudents advance upon mastery.
  • ƒCompetencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
  • ƒAssessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • ƒStudents receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • ƒLearning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge along with the development of important skills and dispositions

“In partnership with seven states, CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers” has defined next generation learning as rooted in six critical attributes:

  • ƒ Personalizing learning
  • ƒ Comprehensive systems of learning supports
  • ƒ World-class knowledge and skills
  • ƒ Performance-based learning
  • ƒ Anytime, everywhere opportunities
  • ƒ Authentic student voice


Sorry, but this is music to my ears.  This is the music of the education revolution!


This group has thought through the next set of emerging issues:


EMERGING ISSUE #1:  Redefine the Carnegie Unit into Competencies

EMERGING ISSUE #2:  Personalized Learning

EMERGING ISSUE #3:  Student-Centered Accountability and Assessment Models

EMERGING ISSUE #4:  Learning Empowered by Technology

EMERGING ISSUE #5:  Supporting Educators in the Transition to a Competency-Based System

EMERGING ISSUE #6:  Financing a Competency-Based System


Their conclusion is something to think about – over and over again!


“State leadership is increasing its mission to transform what is possible for education systems.


“Competency-based learning is essential to cracking the code, unleashing next generation learning, and positioning the United States to out-innovate global competitors. State policies that set high expectations for students and unleash creativity in designing personalized learning will dramatically accelerate student outcomes at rates never before thought possible. It is state leadership that will be in the position to be the conductors of this transformation—synchronizing the innovations and policies into a vibrant education system where all of our children experience the joys of learning.”


Hmmm.  Where have I heard about this approach before….. (smile)…

Posted by marks on Wednesday August 3, 2011 at 03:53PM

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