Personalized Learning, Competency Education Need Policy Support, Group Says

Associate Editor

Realigning assessments around student-centered learning, making personalized learning a grant priority across programs, and building more outcomes-based performance metrics into agreements with full-time and supplemental online education providers are among the policy recommendations released by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning this week.

Eight federal and five state priorities were identified by iNACOL in the annual policy briefs issued by the nonprofit that supports blended learning in conjunction with its annual symposium. The state policy frameworks are suggested with the intention to “close achievement gaps and enable highly personalized pathways.” The federal frameworks advise policymakers on moves that the organization said could close persistent learning gaps, improve equity, and “dramatically increase student achievement.”

On the federal policy level, redesign of assessment around student-centered learning was “Issue #1,” with the report’s author writing that the current Elementary and Secondary Education Act “relies on static, end-of-year, summative assessments that have motivated many educators to ‘teach to the test,’ narrow the curriculum and focus on some, instead of all, students.” To create personalized, competency-based systems requires “multiple measures of learning in real time.”

Among recommendations for states that would impact online education providers are proposals that would: 

  • Require transparency and accountability for the quality of online learning providers, using outcomes-based student learning performance metrics for providers;
  • Shut down schools and discontinue course providers that persistently fail to achieve positive outcomes for students;
  • Create a student performance-based funding model, motivating programs to provide world-class instruction and maximize student gains—not to drive cost savings.
  • Fund pilot programs for schools and districts to implement high-quality, personalized, blended, and competency-based learning systems

States should look at how they can align their data systems to provide “systems-level supports” for teaching and learning, the report said. They should also redesign assessment to align with competency-based learning.

As for student data, states should establish policies to protect and provide good governance of student data privacy, the state report said. At the same time, the group called on states to “avoid prohibitions on the collection and use of student data that can hamper personalized learning environments.”

The iNACOL Federal Policy Frameworks 2015 include the following eight items:

  1. Redesign assessment around student-centered learning
  2. Rethink accountability for continuous improvement of next-generation learning models
  3. Modernize educator and leadership development
  4. Make personalized learning a cross-cutting grant priority
  5. Protect student data privacy and security
  6. Invest in learning models research and development
  7. Build robust technology infrastructure and improve broadband
  8. Support the development and use of open educational resources (OER)

For states, The iNACOL State Policy Frameworks 2015: 5 Critical Issues to Transform K-12 Education include the following:

  1. Create competency-based systems of education
  2. Improve student access and equity
  3. Ensure quality with standards and performance metrics
  4. Modernize educator and leader development
  5. Build new learning models infrastructure

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3 thoughts on “Personalized Learning, Competency Education Need Policy Support, Group Says

  1. The federal frameworks advise policymakers on moves that the organization said could close persistent learning gaps, improve equity, and "dramatically increase student achievement."

    YES IT COULD. But there is no evidence that it does: "Although an emerging research base suggests that CBE is a promising model, it includes only a few rigorous evaluations and analyses of current and ongoing CBE pilots and similar programs."
    (This is from the National Governor’s Association "Expanding Student Success: A Primer on Competency-Based Education from Kindergarten Through Higher Education, " a document that aggressively pushes CBE.)

  2. SECOND POST
    On the federal policy level, redesign of assessment around student-centered learning was "Issue #1," with the report’s author writing that the current Elementary and Secondary Education Act "relies on static, end-of-year, summative assessments that have motivated many educators to ‘teach to the test,’ narrow the curriculum and focus on some, instead of all, students." To create personalized, competency-based systems requires "multiple measures of learning in real time."

    IN OTHER WORDS: we don’t need end of the year standardized tests anymore. We can now do online instruction (based on the common core) and test students on the their progress regularly, as often as every day, leading to greater and greater profits for the testing industrial complex. This is why the president cheerfully announced the new limits on standardized testing.
    "Multiple measures" = more tests of different kinds = more profits

    IS THERE NO END TO THE GREED?

  3. What a load of Orwellian double-speak. To start with, we have the term "personalized learning" being used to describe instruction mostly delivered via computer — with the expensive teacher-person largely removed from the equation.

    The key to effective formative assessment is NOT the frequency of assessment. It is the capacity of the teacher, a human being, to monitor and interact with students in direct response to their needs.

    As Dr. Krashen points out, there is very little research to support this approach — if there were, wouldn’t these mostly profit-driven advocates be shouting about it?

    There IS a great body of research showing the value of genuine formative assessment, which requires skilled educators and the small class sizes that foster truly student-centered learning. You know, the sort the wealthy insist upon when they choose schools for their own children.

    Yes, this organization wants policy advocacy, and yes, there is the Gates Foundation appearing as the #1 sponsor of iNACOL there paying for it. The only question is how long they will get away with selling this as "innovative reform."

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