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Aurora Institute

Telling Our Story

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, How to Get Started, Learn Lessons from the Field

I am feeling really good that we are finally filling the gap of videos that communities can use to learn about competency education and launch conversation about setting a new vision for education in their own schools.

Lindsay Unified School District has produced a 30-minute video about why we need to change from a traditional system to a performance-based system that you can use in your communities to generate conversation. The video is Superintendent Tom Rooney telling the stories of different Lindsay learners with people in the Lindsay community acting out the stories. As always, Tom speaks from his heart – even though I had heard him tell some of these stories before, several brought me to tears. In many ways, the video also helps to challenge bias that we may hold about our students and families. For example, the last story about a young man who wants to go to college even though his father’s expectations are that he would join him in the fields is told with stereotype-busting respect.

An earlier 22-minute video called Transforming Education (also developed by Lindsay Unified) uses Lindsay learners and learning facilitators (teachers) to explain what it means for a district to be performance-based. It highlights application of learning (as compared to just getting a question right); lifelong learning (broad sets of skills and dispositions); and meeting students where they are in their learning (neither leaving students behind or holding them back). It highlights that there are increases in college-going and four-year college-going rates.

As I highlighted last week, KnowledgeWorks has also created a vibrant six-minute video that introduces the key concepts of why the traditional system is a barrier and what it means to have a personalized, competency-based system.

We still need easy to use discussion guides for these videos so that communities don’t have to spend the time crafting their own. And we certainly need another set of videos that address frequently asked questions (how does a teacher organize the classroom to meet students at different levels), provide insights into how to get started, and overview the key implementation steps.

If you know of other videos that can engage communities and educators in thinking about competency education (or mastery-based, performance-based or proficiency-based learning), please let us know.