iNACOL Report: Clearing the Path for Innovation

A new iNACOL report–Clearing the Path: Creating Innovation Space for Serving Over-Age, Under-Credited Students in Competency-Based Pathways–describes new technology-enabled pathways for struggling students. The report–a collaboration of Schools for the Future, MetisNet, Our Piece of the Pie–is the second on competency-based learning for The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).
Competency-based approaches re-engineer the education system around learning and student success.  A three-part working definition of competency-based approaches is provided in the first iNACOL paper: “Students advance upon mastery; explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students; and, assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.”
Like yesterday’s blog on Turnaround for Children, the report notes that “many [over-aged, under-credited] students will have endured traumatic experiences, which can create social or emotional issues that shape their learning experiences.”
The paper suggests four important goals for these underserved youth: 1) motivating experiences, 2) social and emotional continuity, 3) mastery of key employment skills, and 4) high school graduation.
Pointing to a number of Digital Learning Now recommendations, the report calls for anytime-anywhere learning; an end to seat time and progress based on master; and funding the follows the student to the best option.
“Competency-based approaches offer a new value proposition for our education system,” according to Susan Patrick, President and CEO of iNACOL. “It focuses on a departure from seat-time requirements to concept mastery—a vital change toward student-centered learning.”
The name of the report–Clearing the Path–refers to the need for state and local leaders to create room to innovate on behalf of struggling and disconnected youth.
The EdWeek summary suggests competency-based learning is good for kids on both ends of the academic distribution but questions if it’s best for the majority in the middle.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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