Research | News
New Report Shares Global Practices for Competency-Based Ed
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Finland chooses its teachers from the top 10 percent of high school graduates and requires them to attain a research-based master's degree at state expense.
Swedish students learn according to clearly articulated national standards, and can break down and express the standards for each week, such as, "During this week my goal will be to understand and be able to..." Assessments are structured as presentations.
Teachers in New Zealand, who have a great deal of autonomy, participate in curriculum co-development, establishing student assessment methods and ensuring fairness in grading.
Those are a few of the international aspects of delivering competency-based education around the world as outlined in a new report published by CompetencyWorks. CompetencyWorks is a collaborative project that pulls together multiple organizations, including the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices to advance competency education as a replacement for "seat-time" schooling. A competency education is personalized, can take place anytime and anywhere and gives students ownership over their learning.
"An International Study in Competency Education: Postcards from Abroad" offers "snapshot" summaries of competency education as it's practiced in Finland, British Columbia, New Zealand and Scotland, with references to activities in other countries as well.
Authors Sara Frank Bristow, founder of Salient Research, and Susan Patrick, president and CEO of iNACOL, identified six characteristics of competency-based education that tend to surface among all practitioners around the world:
- A transition towards learner-centered, personalized learning pathways;
- A shift towards national core curricula with clearly identified learning standards;
- The use of teacher-led, classroom-based assessment; (a particular favorite is the internationally benchmarked Cambridge Assessment, offered by a not-for-profit organization);
- A concern for student well-being, both physical and emotional;
- Redesigned learning spaces that place students face to face; and
- A global outlook to identify pockets of innovation.
"Almost without exception, education leaders across major world economies share the same goals: to improve student performance and increase equitable outcomes," said Patrick. "As the economy becomes increasingly globalized, nations are increasingly interconnected. Other countries are studying our innovations. We must also study theirs to ensure we aim to provide a world-class education for each and every student."
The free 36-page report in PDF form is available for download from the CompetencyWorks site.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.