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Susan Patrick: With Competency-Based Education, Success Is the Only Option

Education innovators discuss K-12 personalization with Congressional E-Learning Caucus

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2013 – Leaders in the development of competency-based education shared a vision for and examples of K-12 personalized learning programs on Capitol Hill today at a  convening hosted by the bipartisan Congressional E-Learning Caucus. Co-chaired by Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Jared Polis (D-CO), the Congressional E-Learning Caucus seeks to educate members of Congress about the benefits of online learning and improve federal support for quality online educational opportunities.

Presenting today, Susan Patrick, President and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), said, “Competency-based content standards allow students to move at an individualized pace, demonstrate mastery before advancing, receive immediate supports for learning, and ensure they don’t have huge knowledge gaps as students journey through school. In a competency-based system, the gap between struggle and success is identified and supported on a daily basis in real-time, not sometime after the school year ends and it is too late. When learning  gaps are removed from the equation, success is the only option.”

Competency-based education means students advance through school when they have demonstrated mastery of content, standard by standard. It ensures that all students succeed in building college and career readiness, takes advantage of the extraordinary technological advances in online learning for personalization, and provides greater flexibility for students that would otherwise not graduate because of obstacles not related to school.

Also presenting on the importance of competency-based education were Steve Kossakoski, CEO of Virtual Learning Academy in New Hampshire, where they are partnering with a local college to provide a concurrent Associates Degree program for their high school students; Rose Fernandez, Founder of the National Parent Network for Online Learning, where she has been a longtime advocate for personalized education through online learning; Sajan George, Founder and CEO of Matchbook Learning, a network focused on turnaround of the bottom five percent of schools through a competency-based blended learning model; and David Haglund, Assistant Superintendent for K-12 Instructional Support for the Riverside School District in California, where they offer a full range of school environment options to strengthen student engagement using competency-based online and blended learning.

Sharing the efforts of his district, Haglund said, “We must expect every student to demonstrate the same level of mastery, but allow students to get there in different ways based on individual needs and preferences. In competency-based models, learning is the constant and time is a variable. The focus is rightly placed on specific learning outcomes, rather than monitoring seat-time and school days.”

“Other countries already identify competency-based teaching and learning as a core reform to transform their education systems and prepare their students for success,” said Susan Patrick. “Just
as in life beyond school, we must ask our students to demonstrate their mastery of content knowledge and skills in order to achieve true progression and readiness for college, careers, and a global society.”

SOURCE International Association for K-12 Online Learning

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