Professional Development

Tennessee Department of Ed Pilots Micro-Credential PD

The Department of Education in Tennessee has kicked off a pilot this fall to introduce its teachers to competency-based professional learning through micro-credentials. The agency will be working with BloomBoard, which specializes in delivering that kind of professional development.

A micro-credential is a form of recognition issued to a person who has learned a set of skills in a specific category and then proven mastery through various kinds of assessments. For example, a micro-credential might cover how to help students learn fractions or collaborate in a team and both might be assessed through videos of the teacher performing those activities in the classroom.

The pilot will bring a group of "highly effective" Tennessee teachers from around the state to participate in the program as mentors. They'll work virtually with novice Tennessee teachers through the BloomBoard platform, where the expert teachers can curate and recommend learning resources and all participants can access online collaboration tools as they work toward earning specific micro-credentials selected for their programs.

The first phase of the pilot will run through spring 2017. If all goes as planned, the agency will launch a program to bring attention to micro-credentials within districts and help school leaders understand how to integrate micro-credentials with re-licensure efforts.

"We believe that high-quality teachers lead to improved student learning outcomes, and we want to support Tennessee educators in developing the key instructional competencies they need to be effective in the classroom," said Kathleen Airhart, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee agency, in a statement. "Our goal in launching this pilot is to better understand the micro-credentialing process and build partnerships with districts around micro-credentials, so we can effectively scale our efforts to implement a more competency-based approach to professional learning."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.