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Saturday, November 03, 2018

Communication critical when introducing competency-based models | K-12 - Education Dive

As more districts stand poised for major changes in how students are taught and assessed, administrators must find ways to bring all stakeholders on board, reports Amelia Harper, Contributor.

Photo: Flickr; Alan Levine

Dive Brief:
  • Organizations such as the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) are pushing for a movement toward broad educational reforms, such as competency-based education, with assessment of mastered skills or proficiencies replacing traditional A-F grading systems, according to a column in The Hechinger Report.
  • However, some parents and students in Maine and other locations are pushing back against these changes, citing issues such as a lack of clear guidance in the transition, a lack of student voice in the decisions and the feeling that such shifts are being forced upon them.
  • Obstacles to these new models can come from both sides of the ideological aisle and may result from factors, such as suspicion of philanthropy-backed reforms, a lack of clear communication about the research behind the models, why such changes are necessary, their long-term impact and the fact that most communication about these changes is couched in educational jargon.
Dive Insight:  
The K-12 education landscape is shifting as states and school districts are adopting new models that affect the way teachers teach, students learn and how parents are informed of students' progress. While educators and lawmakers may spend much time and effort in studying such issues as competency-based education, parents, students and community stakeholders often feel left in the dark about these issues until they begin to affect their lives in a real way. At that point, they may become angry or confused about the changes and may feel disenfranchised by the same educational system they are asked to support with their tax dollars and volunteer hours.

Some parents are also hesitant to support ideas that are promoted by organizations that receive funding from rich and powerful philanthropies. They might mistrust the motives or the political agendas of these organizations. Or they may simply feel that the power of these organizations to fund education and influence public policy robs parents and students of their voices in the process.

As states and school districts make sweeping reforms, it is important that they consider the people who will be most affected by the changes. Parents and students want to know the pros and cons of these approaches. They also want to know what these changes mean for them. How will it affect the learning process? Their transcript? The awards and scholarships they receive? The ability to enter college or find a job?

Source: Education Dive