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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Symposium Competency Education Strand Keeps Getting Better and Better

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

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

Great conversations at iNACOL16.

I just received the list of the #inacol17 sessions and workshops within the Competency Education track and it looks outrageously good. (There are also a number of really great pre-conference sessions as well.)

Here are the highlights:

Equity and Competency Education

Performance Assessments

  • Are Performance Tasks Really For Everyone? Designing Rigorous Tasks for Equity and Engagement, Ensuring Every Student Crosses the Finish Line with Antonia Rudenstine, Dixie Bacallao and Sydney Schaef.
  • Performance Assessment as a Vehicle for Transformation with Christine Landwehrle and Bethany Bernasconi.

District and School Conversion

Getting Started

Future Directions

  • Engaging Educators in Personalized, Competency-Based Learning: Are You Walking the Talk? Learn How Micro-Credentials and Other Strategies Pave the Way with Patricia Deklotz and Theresa Ewald of Kettle-Moraine School District in Wisconsin.
  • The Rise, Risks and Rewards of Competency Education and New Credentials Across the Education Pipeline with Stephanie Krauss of Jobs for the Future.
  • Where Do We Go From Here: Reflections on Future Directions of Competency Education with Chris Sturgis and Susan Patrick.


New Models

Deeper Learning


  • Building a Foundation for Competency-Based Education – State by State with Karla Phillips of Foundation for Excellence in Education and Matt Williams of KnowledgeWorks.
  • Competency-Based Education Grading Policy with Mastery Collaborattive’s Julianna Charles Brown and Jeremy Kraushar.
  • Cross-State Conversations: An Interactive Discussion about an Approach to Supporting State Educational Agencies Engaged in Advancing Competency-Based Education with Wendy Blumenthal and Janet Twyman from Center for Innovations in Learning.
  • Policy for Practitioners: Making the Shift to Competency Education with David Ruff and Erin Dukeshire from Great Schools Partnership

Culture and Practices

  • FIP-ing Your Competencies: Mapping Learning Targets to Competencies with Renee Owen and Jennifer McCrary.
  • Peeking Under the Hood: Taking a Close Look at the Tricky Details That Make the Mastery-Based Learning Engine Work with Scott Ellis of Mastery Track, Rui Bao of Caliber Schools and Maquita Alexander of Washington Yu Ying.
  • Supporting Competency-Based Learning Practices with Positive Youth Development with Sam Sherwood of Springpoint.
  • What Does Competency Education Look Like in the Classroom? Using Survey Tools to Measure Teacher Practices and Student Experiences Related to Competency-Based Education with David Blumenthal and Wendy Surr of AIR.

And there is more….

How Districts Innovate: New Small Schools in Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Hear from a panel of district and school leaders from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). Panel members will reflect on the district’s portfolio strategy, which includes the design and launch of new high schools through the Opportunity by Design initiative. Moderated by Springpoint, panelists will discuss how the process of creating new small schools drives innovation in the district and leads to approaches like mastery-based learning and community-driven school model design.

  • Kristen Kelly, Cleveland Metropolitan School District 
  • Christine Fowler-Mack, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Irene Javier, Cleveland Metropolitan School District 
  • Tara Drouhard, Cleveland Metropolitan School District 
  • Darcel Williams, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Matthew Pilarski, Springpoint
Unleashing the Most Underutilized Resource in Education: The Learner
It’s easy to get caught up in the hard work of shifting a century-old system out of its traditional ways of operating. Our focus can get lost in the new structures and technology needed to support this transformation. Join Kelly Young, Executive Director of Education Reimagined, and four inspiring learners from across the country who have experienced both traditional and learner-centered learning models to hear their insights into creating environments that unleash their full potential.

  • Kelly Young, Education Reimagined
  • Jemar Lee, Iowa BIG 
  • Patricia Coleman, McComb School District 
  • Keyonna Griffin, McComb School District 
  • Vanella Tadjuidje, Pike Road Schools 
Designing the School of the Future, Today
This session will focus on how to implement a “best practice” approach to teaching through “next practice” systems. Highlights include how to use technology to drive personalized learning, student engagement, blended classrooms, prescribed learning, student collaboration, critical thinking and much more. Buddy will be assisted by his 14-year-old daughter in driving home what it looks like through the first-hand perspective of a student. Bring your tough questions and be ready to dream together.

  • Buddy Berry, Eminence Independent Schools
  • Brooke Berry, Eminence Independent Schools
School (Re)Design: Equitable Outcomes through Personalization
Everyone’s talking about personalization and equity, but what does that actually mean for school (re)design? NewSchools will lead a discussion with district and charter school leaders, who are designing for equity through personalization and innovation. Join us to hear practices and lessons learned from practitioners who are achieving equitable outcomes or are designing their schools to get there. Speakers will also share tools and resources they have leveraged to advance their efforts.

  • Frances Messano, NewSchools Venture Fund 
  • Arielle Rittvo Kinder, NewSchools Venture Fund 

Below are helpful links to learn more about the Symposium: