Getting Smart Staff

Getting Smart Town Hall Recap: Let’s Talk About C.B.E.: Competency-Based Everything

lets talk about cbe

On the most recent Getting Smart Town Hall, Let’s Talk about C.B.E.: Competency-Based Everything, we brought in a few of our friends to serve as guests and lend their valuable expertise to the audience’s wonderings about competency-based education (CBE). We were joined by Claudette Trujillo of Westminster Public Schools, Laura Hilger of Knowledgeworks, Deion A. Jordan of Crosstown High and Abby Benedetto of Envision Education.

As always, we started with a poem:

blessing the boats by Lucille Clifton

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back
may you open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Some attendees were moved by the word “tide” noting its implications of collaboration and how networks can bring things about. Others were inspired by the undertones of “leaning into uncertainty”. “Turning from the wind” implies having the wind at your back, letting the strength of what is already moving in the right direction help carry us along.”

Together, we unpacked what competency-based education is, what role it plays in the modern learning landscape and the profound power of learner goals. Shawnee beautifully stated that we must “Lean into the uncertainty and thrive with purpose.”

Chris Sturgis shared the following insight: “I think helping districts to understand the difference that standards-referenced is a stepping stone to standards-based and CBE. Our problem in our country is that we call standards-referenced, standards-based and makes it harder for people to understand that using standards helps improve instruction and assessment and makes learning transparent to kids. BUT the next and powerful change is to build the capacity to meet kids where they are, providing more time and instruction as needed for kids to be successful, and to create a culture that assumes that everyone will be successful.”

Themes Surfaced

Then we took the opportunity to disperse into breakout rooms, led by a Getting Smart team member and one of our esteemed guests. Here, our participants worked in Jamboards to identify wonderings, gaps and opportunities. Here are some of the themes that surfaced within these sessions:

Mindset: In order for CBE to be effective, mental models need changing.

Equity: Many attendees noted the importance of meeting learners where they are at as a key foundation for equitably enforcing CBE. One participant shared: “I love the equity theme…and I also could summarize it as: reality.”

Measurement: Many of the attendees were curious and optimistic about the ways you can show proof of learning.

Collaboration: Many educators mentioned the fact that they need time to co-design and collaborate together in order to design an effective CBE experience.

Tech: Many of the participants voiced concerns with the fact that there are still not many offerings for CBE friendly tech systems.

You can check out the links and resources mentioned in the session here.

Frequently Asked Questions

We received some of the following questions from the attendees and will be using them to inform some future blog posts as well as, perhaps, future sessions:

  • What can rigorous workplace/internship/real world learning look like beyond CTE models?
  • Would like to learn more about managing large volumes of students at different levels of proficiency.
  • Would like to learn more about: Assessment, going gradeless with a focus on individual student competency goals.

What’s Next

Next month we’re changing things up a bit. Instead of a town hall, we are excited to host a fireside chat alongside our friends: Turnaround For Children. We will facilitate a discussion about returning  to school — whole-child style. Register now — you won’t want to miss this forward-looking discussion on August 4th at 9 a.m. PT.


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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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