Friday, October 5, 2012

Moving Ahead with Competency-Based Learning

Competency-based learning has educators thinking about how classrooms are organized. For example, Arizona has an initiative, called Move on When Ready, that allows high-achieving students to graduate after their sophomore year if they demonstrate they can perform at a college-ready level.

Jeff Livingston, senior vice president of college and career readiness at McGraw-Hill, added to the conversation in an interview with GigaOM, where he suggested that educators will be rethinking organizing K-12 classes by age.

“What does it mean to be a ninth grader or 10th grader beyond a certain age?” Livingston said. “It doesn’t make sense that all the 15-year-olds are in this grade and all the 16-year-olds are in that grade. It should be where your interests, your skills, and your mastery of certain concepts take you.”

Mixed-aged classrooms have been around since one-room schoolhouse days, while the Khan Academy and Western Governors University are putting learning based on competency into practice. Massive open online courses are also part of the picture, providing high school students the opportunity to move ahead of their classroom coursework through college-level courses.

The technology is there to make it happen, or soon will be. The question is whether teachers, school administrators, and parents are ready for the change. 

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