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Aurora Institute

Get Ready for the Upcoming iNACOL Symposium!

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Learn Lessons from the Field

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.20.30 AMThe iNACOL Symposium is just around the corner. Here are a couple of important things to know and a quick overview of the schedule for competency ed innovators.

Most Important!
SUNDAY 5:15 – 7:15  Meet-Up at the CompetencyWorks Lounge during the welcoming reception. We’ll be right outside the exhibitor hall in the lounge area. Come meet your peers from around the country!

For Twitterites:  Use #competencyed or #cworks



1 pm Design Choices for Competency Education – This is the pre-conference workshop that is dedicated to talking about the different ways innovators are making design choices in shaping their competency-based schools.  Remember – you have to register for this session as it is a pre-conference workshop.


Transparency=Ownership: A Model for Student-Centered Learning: Alison Hramiec from Boston Day and Evening will discuss BDEA’s competency-based strategies, school wide systems and mastery-based instructional practices. The session will be interactive and provide the tools necessary to build a culture that promotes student collaboration and communication, resulting in a school where students will say, “We are in charge of our education.”  This is a great session for folks who have been working in the field or are just getting started. Alison has taught me much of what I know about competency education.

Community and Competency Education: Engagement and Communication Strategies:  If you haven’t had a chance to meet any of the folks from the Reinventing Schools Coalition, here is your chance. Rick Schreiber, Executive Director RISC, will share lessons about how districts and schools engage communities in converting their schools to competency-based or proficiency-based education. During this session Rick will share processes and techniques to engage communities and parents, including ways to respond to the concerns of parents.

“Blend my Teaching”: Practical Tools for Transitioning to a Blended, Student-Centered School: Do you want to learn from the Education Achievement Authority, a leader in the field, to create blended, mastery-based schools?  Pamara English, an instructional interventionist and others from EAA will introduce examples of an evaluation system designed to capture best practices in a blended, student-centered environment.

Introducing Competency Education:  This session is designed for folks who have heard about competency education but don’t know very much about it. Susan and I will introduce participants to the working definition of competency education, provide a snapshot of how it is emerging across the country, and raise equity considerations and major policy issues.

The Architecture of Competency Based Learning: Competencies, Assessment, Learning, and Grading:  Rose Colby has been supporting many districts in New Hampshire and around the country in their conversion to competency education. In this this session she will provide design elements and support tools for educators in public school settings to plan and prepare for their transformation to competency based learning in the classroom environment and in extended learning opportunities. She will discuss current practices in curriculum design and development, high quality assessment practices, unit and lesson design, and grading.

Re-Engineering Information Technology for Competency-based Education: Susan Patrick and Liz Glowa will dive into enterprise architecture approaches to technology supporting competency-based learning.  The session provides an overview of components, key issues, planning and design features related to IT interoperability (content management, learning management, student information systems, performance-based assessments, e-portfolios, and student profiles) to support individual student performance and growth over time for leaders implementing student-centered, personalized, new learning models. Be sure to read the paper beforehand.

Blending Learning Science, Learning Standards, Process Optimization, and Data Standards for Competency-Based Learning at Scale: Jim Goodell will explore the conditions that are needed for blended/online learning to be as effective, or even MORE EFFECTIVE, than good one-to-one tutoring, and AS SCALABLE as group instruction. Learn about technology initiatives supporting competency-based education along with innovations in organizational models, professional roles, and practices, guided by learning sciences research.

Coast-to-Coast Pathways to Competency Based Education: Three Different Approaches from New Hampshire, Iowa, and Oregon: Diane Smith from Oregon, Rose Colby from New Hampshire, and Sandra Dop form Iowa will guide you through the different strategies states are taking in the implementation of competency-based education. Approaches and roll-out can look different, but the overall goals and outcomes appear to be consistent nationally. Participants will discover: policy, background, stake-holder involvement, sustainability, classroom management techniques, assessment strategies, and professional development, and they will consider how to engage in this work in their school, district or state.


Whew – ready for more? On Tuesday you can go to:

New Whole School Designs for Student Success: Lessons from Districts: JoEllen Lynch from Springpoint and several district leaders will discuss how they support planning and design teams based on a set of school design principles.

Personalizing for Proficiency: Pedagogy and Practices for Student Centered Learning: If you are working in a school, then you do not want to miss Kim Carter and Elizabeth Cardine from the QED Foundation discuss personalization. Join them for an in-depth look at essential knowledge, skills, and resources for personalizing learning for every student.

Shaping Policy to Advance Competency-Based Pathways that Support All Students to College and Career Readiness:  If you are more interested in policy, Cory Curl and Anne Bowles from ACHIEVE, David Cook from Kentucky and Sharon Lee from Rhode Island will discuss key policy issues in advancing competency-based pathways (CBP), including: analyzing, discussing, and planning a vision for how they will advance CBP in their school, district, and state; how states can support this vision; and recommendations they would make to states committed to furthering CBP. Achieve’s forthcoming state policy framework on assessment, accountability, and graduation requirements will serve as the primary resource for discussion.

One District’s Journey to Proficiency-Based Grading and Reporting: Debbie Connolly and Carla Dahlin from Medford OR will describe how their secondary schools have undertaken a four year journey towards implementing proficiency-based teaching and learning. Hear about their journey and bumps along the way, where the district is now and details of their plan to implement a proficiency-based report card and district-built teacher grade book system. The district will share resources, processes, report card mock-ups, and professional development plans that support all students being proficient in the academic content standards.

Designing Project-based Learning Projects Aligned to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Competencies:  Project-based learning is a natural outgrowth in a competency-based environment so that students can apply what they are learning. Rose Colby and Andrew Miller will discuss fundamental concepts of designing high quality, project-based learning experiences for students that are founded on the Common Core State Standards.

Moving from Performance Assessment to a Competency-Based System: Learning from Schools: Kim Carter and Alexis Menten along with school-based staff will describe lessons learned about converting to competency-based education. The panel features national and school-based staff working to establish a data- and technology-driven system of curriculum, instruction, and assessment that results in students graduating both globally competent and college/career ready. The panelists, including representatives from Asia Society, QED Foundation, and schools in several states, including NH and CO, will share their approaches and lessons learned about the school-wide practices, policies, and systems required to support this work.

Want more? Check out the full agenda or if you are already registered go to the Online Community and search for competency. See you there!