iNACOL Policy Update – Enabling Policies to Transform K-12 Education

January 23, 2015 by

January 16-22, 2015
By iNACOL Center for Policy Advocacy

Welcome to the fourth installment of the iNACOL Policy Update. January is proving to be a busy month, with many state legislatures coming back into session, ESEA reauthorization activity picking up in Congress, and several education mentions in the President’s State of the Union address. The purpose of this blog is to share policy developments in the field of K-12 online learning, blended learning and competency education – to highlight recent trends and enablers, and to identify barriers and provide an issues update. It includes a snapshot of important education policies, regulations, gubernatorial and legislative affairs.

A summary is below; a more detailed version with additional legislative information is available in the members-only iNACOL Member Forums. We track policy priorities and issues related to the field’s needs as outlined annually in the iNACOL State Policy Frameworks. This report provides background and recommendations for policy issues and more information on the critical policy shifts needed to transform K-12 education.

State Policy Highlights

  • Alaska and New Mexico convened for session on January 20, 2015.
  • An Arizona bill would create a statewide program for students to access courses online, provide for performance-based funding, and open pathways for competency education.
  • A bill in Missouri would establish a statewide Course Access program, while another bill would allow any resident student to enroll in an online course or program outside of his or her school district or at a charter school.
  • A bill in Connecticut would require the Department of Education to issue professional certification to a teacher who is properly certified in a neighboring state and has at least two years of teaching experience.
  • Bills in Indiana and Mississippi would create districts of innovation for the purposes of improving students’ educational performance.
  • A bill in New York would direct the Commissioner of Education to establish a permanent online learning advisory committee to make recommendations for the establishment of a statewide online and blended learning program.
  • In Oregon, a bill would require each school district to use formative, interim-growth assessments.
  • The Rhode Island Senate has proposed a bill that would require the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt a competency-based/proficiency-based learning policy.
  • In Virginia, a bill would establish the Open Education Resources Innovation Council.
  • A bill in West Virginia provides for the creation of charter schools; however, prohibits the authorizing of virtual charters.

Federal Policy Highlights

  • State of the Union: During the State of the Union Address this week, President Obama stated that he “intend[s] to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.” The President also spoke on the topic of privacy. He stated that he “urge[s] this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.” One notable omission from the speech was a call to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Read Susan Patrick’s blog on the State of the Union for more information.
  • Senate ESEA Reauthorization Hearing: On Wednesday, January 21, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held its first hearing for ESEA reauthorization in the 114th Congress. The topic of the hearing was “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.” Witnesses included Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, who has led that state’s transition to competency education and the implementation of a next generation accountability and assessments system and Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, which is implementing blended learning and performance assessments. You can watch a video of the hearing, see a full witness list, and read their testimonies here.

Need more information?  Contact Maria Worthen (mworthen@inacol.org) or Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org)

Already a member? Access the more detailed legislative highlights through the Membership Forum.

Not yet a member? Join iNACOL to gain access to this Membership Forum, job postings, announcements, grant opportunities, and the latest information from the field.

#SOTU: Building Capacity for the Future of U.S. Education

January 20, 2015 by

This evening, President Obama reinforced policy initiatives that underscore essential elements to strengthen our country’s public schools. Equitable access to broadband Internet and protecting the security and privacy of student data to improve learning are necessary to the creation of effective and safe learning environments for our teachers and students. Equally important, however, is the potential for a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for a new generation of educators and learners. iNACOL believes this will be core to the conversation we, as a nation, must have about the future of the U.S. public education system over the coming months. Working with pioneers in K-12 education to deliver on the promise of online, blended, and competency-based learning to prepare K-12 students for lifetime success, we are witnessing the transformation of the American education system. Our classrooms are moving away from the one-size-fits-all, traditional educational model and toward technology-enabled, personalized learning environments. These powerful new learning models have the potential to transform the education system and enable higher levels of learning through competency-based approaches.

As President Obama stressed tonight, America should be looking to the future instead of the past. In 2015, Congress and the country have a rare chance to develop an updated ESEA, supporting education innovators and pioneering classroom and school leaders; holding schools accountable for student achievement; ensuring students are demonstrating mastery of content and skills; and developing next generation accountability systems. Across the country, schools, districts, and states are already embracing competency education as an approach to teaching and learning to maximize success for every child and close learning gaps for each student through personalized learning pathways.

Developing a stronger public education system for all U.S. students is an issue on which we can all agree. This year, policymakers have an opportunity to support state and local innovators by establishing a student-centered federal education policy. Fifteen years into this century, with a mandate to build capacity for our schools to deliver college and career readiness, it is time we couple 21st century technology with the best of online and classroom practice to provide each and every student with a world-class education.

iNACOL Policy Update – Enabling Policies to Transform K-12 Education

January 16, 2015 by

January 9 – January 15, 2015
By iNACOL Center for Policy Advocacy

The 2015 legislative session is well underway, and new bills are being dropped in the hopper at a fast pace across the nation.

The purpose of this blog is to share policy developments in the field of K-12 online learning, blended learning and competency education – to highlight recent trends and enablers, and to identify barriers and provide an issues update. It includes a snapshot of important education policies, regulations, gubernatorial and legislative affairs.

A summary is below; a more detailed version with additional legislative information is available in the members-only iNACOL Member Forums. We track policy priorities and issues related to the field’s needs as outlined annually in the iNACOL State Policy Frameworks. This report provides background and recommendations for policy issues and more information on the critical policy shifts needed to transform K-12 education.

State Policy Highlights

  • Seventeen state legislatures convened this week: Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Delaware, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • A bill in Minnesota would allow fully certified teachers from adjoining states to transfer their certification to Minnesota and receive a full, five-year continuing teaching license without having to complete any additional exams or other preparation requirements.
  • An Oklahoma bill would require the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board to establish a process to review and certify supplemental online courses.
  • A bill in Mississippi would authorize the creation of innovation schools and innovation zones focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics in school districts.
  • Another bill in Mississippi would exempt school districts meeting the highest levels of accreditation standards and the licensed employees of those districts from reporting student grades to the Department of Education, submitting reports regarding the type and amount of work done in each grade of their respective school to the superintendent of the school district, and participating in the process of selecting textbooks.
  • A Virginia bill would allow schools to establish a start date earlier than Labor Day if they are providing an experimental or innovative program that requires an earlier opening date.
  • In Kentucky, a bill would establish a charter school pilot project.
  • A bill in Indiana would develop the Rewarding Innovation, Technology, and Excellence (RITE) program to award grants to districts whose schools have exhibited improvement toward benchmarks developed by the State Board of Education.
  • In Iowa, a bill has been introduced which would extend the full-time online school pilot program beyond its scheduled sunset date of June 30, 2015.

Federal Policy Highlights


Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization:

  • Draft Bill for Public Comment: On Tuesday, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Lamar Alexander, released an ESEA Reauthorization discussion draft bill. The Chairman invites the public to submit comment on this draft by February 2. A link to the bill and information on submitting comment are available here. iNACOL has released both a statement of support and actionable recommendations for supporting competency education in the ESEA reauthorization discussion.
  • Hearing on Assessments: On Wednesday, January 21, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing examining possible changes to ESEA accountability and assessment provisions, titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.” More information on hearing time, and a link to a live stream video will be available here.

White House Actions on Student Data Privacy: Next week, the President is releasing a new legislative proposal designed to provide teachers and parents the confidence they need to enhance teaching and learning with the best technology — by ensuring that data collected in the educational context is used only for educational purposes. This bill, modeled on a recently passed California law, builds on the recommendations of the White House Big Data and Privacy review released earlier this year, and it would prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes unrelated to the educational mission and from engaging in targeted advertising to students based on data collected in school – while still permitting important research initiatives to improve student learning outcomes, and efforts by companies to continuously improve the effectiveness of their learning technology products.

Need more information?  Contact Maria Worthen (mworthen@inacol.org) or Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org).

Already a member? Access the more detailed legislative highlights through the Membership Forum.

Not yet a member? Join iNACOL to gain access to this Membership Forum, job postings, announcements, grant opportunities, and the latest information from the field.

Supporting Competency Education in ESEA Reauthorization

January 12, 2015 by
This post originally appeared on CompetencyWorks on January 10, 2015. 
 

A new congress brings new hopes for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA reauthorization provides an important window of opportunity to realign federal policy to support and enable the transition to competency education.

Background

The new Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander, has indicated his intention to consider an ESEA reauthorization bill in that committee by February. House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman, Representative John Kline, has said it will be a top priority. Both have announced plans to hold hearings in the next month.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the state education chiefs last fall that the new Congress gives new potential to work on a bipartisan basis and that he will be pushing very hard to reauthorize ESEA.

With positive signals coming from House, Senate, and the Education Department leaders about reauthorization, could 2015 be ESEA’s year? Maybe, maybe not– but if you care about the outcome, it’s still essential to weigh in.

The importance of weighing in on ESEA

Here’s why it’s important to get engaged whether or not a reauthorization gets across the finish line: The process of attaining significant policy change, particularly in Congress, tends to be incremental and iterative. The bills considered in the 2013 reauthorization attempt closely resembled those from the 2011 attempt. So, some of the language that was included in the 2013 bill will more than likely be the starting point for this year’s attempt.  The failure of the 2013 bill was in its own way, a victory for advocates who saw language they supported included in it—they moved the yardstick in a very, very long game.

Competency education: focusing on student learning

Competency education in K-12 education is garnering real interest in the halls of Congress these days and there is a clear need to ensure that we continue to do all we can to advance equity for students. Folks on all sides of the education debate can agree that we need a new paradigm for how we do accountability and assessments.

Competency education offers a real alternative to the current paradigm, providing a framework for learning that drives towards proficiency to academic standards through personalized learning and differentiated supports for every student.

We define competency education with the following five elements:

  1. Students advance upon mastery.
  2. Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
  3. Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  4. Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  5. Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with development of important skills and dispositions.

While our current system masks true student achievement and gaps with summative data focused solely on proficiency, competency provides real evidence about where students are in their learning trajectory towards proficiency and helps them get to college and career readiness regardless of where they start from and regardless or grade or time. An accountability system aligned to competency education is one that is built around student learning.

How previous ESEA reauthorization bills have addressed competency education

There were two significant nods to competency education in the ESEA reauthorization bill that passed out of the Senate HELP Committee in 2013. First, it included an accountability and assessment pilot that would have allowed a limited number of states to put in place a new performance-based framework to align to competency education in schools statewide. Second, it included some significant general accountability provisions: the bill would have allowed state summative scores comprised of multiple assessments administered throughout the year (which could open the door to students testing when ready). Additionally, the assessments could measure individual student growth and multiple measures could be taken into account for accountability purposes.

Given some lawmakers’ interest in supporting competency education in ESEA, the aforementioned elements in the 2013 bill provide a good starting point to build on this year.

Guiding principles for competency education in ESEA

We are developing specific recommendations for ESEA reauthorization to advance competency education in K-12, and here are some general principles that will guide them. (Check out A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change for some broader thinking on how federal policies can enable competency.):

  • The Federal Government needs to clear the path for states and districts that are ready to implement competency education. There is a mis-alignment between time-based accountability and assessment requirements in current law and competency education. Current summative end of year assessment requirements do not include individual student growth; students cannot take these assessments when they are ready, and the assessments are rarely connected with what students are actually learning. End of year determinations based on these assessment data encourage educators to focus only on the students that are close to making proficiency, rather than incentivize them to focus on the growth and learning of every student. Federal policies should focus on enabling competency by removing barriers for those who are ready to do it, and by creating the right incentives in the accountability system to focus on student growth to proficiency. There are many more barriers to competency education in state policy, which should be dealt with at that level of governance, not by federal policy. The biggest federal policy barriers to competency education are the disincentives created by NCLB’s accountability and assessment requirements. Also, the federal policies regarding educators, notably the Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) provision, puts the wrong focus on time-based teacher preparation, rather than teacher competency to facilitate personalized learning for every student. Congress’ challenge will be to find the right balance between accountability for equity and flexibility to do what’s right for kids.
  • Maintaining the focus on equity is essential. When ESEA was first passed in 1965, Congress’ intent was to improve education for disadvantaged students. While the methods and scope have changed over the years, that intent should remain at the heart of any reauthorizations. Competency education is about equity. It’s about ensuring that every student has the opportunity and support to become college and career ready. ESEA can help enable these practices but it does not (and should not) require them. Regardless of the teaching and learning framework in use in any school or district, there should be shared accountability for student success. A key change with the 2001 NCLB reauthorization was to provide transparency around academic proficiency for every student, disaggregated by subgroup (race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, disability status, English learner status). This provided an important spotlight, revealing shameful achievement gaps and providing accountability for closing those gaps. Disaggregated student data must remain at the heart of ESEA. The question will be how we can get the right systems of assessments in place to measure individual student growth in a way that is connected to teaching and learning. And, how we can rethink an accountability system that incentivizes getting each kid to proficiency via a personalized learning pathway, rather than getting a smaller group of kids to proficiency to make AYP. The current ESEA-required once a year testing actually masks the depth of the achievement gap. If we want to be honest with our students and our citizens, then we need to assess students upon entry in any educational program for the depth of the gaps, and then work to support them to stay or get back on track. This includes working (and assessing) outside of grade levels and doing everything possible to support student growth. Federal policy is squarely in the way by mandating a time-based model of accountability when new models could be creating dramatically better results.
  • Federal funding and flexibility can accelerate development of promising models and practices. While we don’t want to require competency education of anyone, we do want to make it easier for every state and district to support it. In particular, we want to be sure that promising models have room to innovate, evaluate, and replicate. There is a role for pilot programs in ESEA around accountability and assessments systems, supporting educators, and improving the data systems that support personalized learning. 

The path forward

In the coming months, House and Senate education committees will be holding hearings and meeting with education advocates to determine the best path forward for ESEA reauthorization. Now is an important window of opportunity to communicate the promise of competency education and the importance of aligning federal policy to support it. iNACOL will be engaging in this process and sharing our recommendations. Voices from the field who have implemented competency education in their states, districts, and schools, will be particularly important. If you’d like to share your work and your perspective on ESEA reauthorization, please contact me.

iNACOL Policy Update – Enabling Policies to Transform K-12 Education

January 8, 2015 by

December 18, 2014 – January 7, 2015
By iNACOL Center for Policy Advocacy

Happy New Year! This blog is to share policy developments in the field of K-12 online learning, blended learning and competency education – to highlight recent trends, enablers, identify barriers and provide an issues update. It includes a snapshot of important education policies, regulations, gubernatorial and legislative affairs.

A summary is below; a more detailed version with additional legislative information is available in the members-only iNACOL Membership Forum. We track policy priorities and issues related to the field’s needs as outlined annually in the iNACOL State Policy Frameworks. This report provides issue, background and recommendations for policy and more information on the critical policy shifts needed to transform K-12 education.

State Policy Highlights

  • Eleven state legislatures convened this week: Montana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill directing the Commissioner to establish an online learning advisory committee to make recommendations on establishing a statewide online and blended learning program.
  • A Utah bill would provide for grants to local education agencies to purchase digital content and hardware, to provide professional development for educators, and to improve internal school Internet connections.
  • A Virginia bill would create a Virginia Public School Improvement Program to support “creative school reform initiatives” to improve the academic achievement of the lowest performing students. The program would include elements such as personalized instruction, alternative accountability and assessment frameworks, and increased use of technology in education and assessment.
  • Another bill in the Virginia Senate would repeal the current A-F school grading system. A similar bill has also been introduced in the House.
  • In New Mexico, a new bill would allow grade promotions (in K-8) based upon student reading proficiency and provide remediation for students who are not yet ready to advance to the next grade in reading.

Federal Policy Highlight

  • As the 114th Congress convenes in Washington, D.C., chairmen of both the House and Senate education committee have announced that passing an ESEA reauthorization bill is a top priority. Stay tuned for more information about our recommendations for supporting the shift to next generation learning models in ESEA reauthorization, and for updates on the process.

Need more information?  Contact Maria Worthen (mworthen@inacol.org) or Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org).

Already a member? Access the more detailed legislative highlights through the Membership Forum.

Not yet a member? Join iNACOL to gain access to this Membership Forum, job postings, announcements, grant opportunities, and the latest information from the field.

iNACOL Policy Update – Enabling Policies to Transform K-12 Education

December 17, 2014 by

iNACOL will be blogging weekly to share policy developments – both barriers and enablers – for the transformation to student-centered learning powered by blended and online learning. We’ll share updates on new and developing education policies, regulations, gubernatorial and legislative issues related to blended, online and competency education. A summary is below; the more detailed version with additional legislative information is available in the iNACOL Member Forums.

State Policy Highlights

  • Missouri introduced a bill to define school attendance by minimum hours, not days, creating flexibility in seat-time.
  • New York passed a law (awaiting Governor’s signature) and Missouri introduced a bill to establish task forces to improve access and equity through blended and online learning.
  • A bill in Virginia would create a new online school, the Virginia Virtual School, and create a funding model that would allow per pupil funds to follow full-time online students to the school.
  • A Florida bill would allow educators to use classroom data to improve education, expanding data systems and security.
  • In Oklahoma, one bill would create teacher licensure reciprocity and another would reduce funding for full-time virtual charters

Federal Policy Highlight

  • E-Rate Reform Finalized – The federal government successfully completed its work at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on E-Rate modernization. The FCC’s E-rate program connects the nation’s schools and libraries to broadband. The FCC launched the update of E-Rate in 2010 and last week completed its work to modernize the E-rate program to increase the focus on the largest and most urgent need—closing the wi-fi gap—while transitioning support away from legacy technologies to 21st Century broadband connectivity, ensuring E-rate money is spent smartly, increasing the funding cap and improving program administration.

To access more detailed information on these items and more policy highlights, including direct links to legislation, sponsor information, summaries and analysis, please go to the iNACOL Members-only Forums.

Note: Detailed highlights are provided for iNACOL Members in the Membership Forums (members-only), where you will find additional policy updates.  Members receive access to a members-only forum for job postings, policy updates, announcements, grant opportunities and the latest information from the field.

Already a Member? Access the Member Forums here: iNACOL Forums
Join iNACOL here: iNACOL Membership

Update on E-Rate Modernization

December 9, 2014 by

The FCC will vote on e-rate expansion, determining the future of broadband connectivity for schools and libraries.

On December 11, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will take an important step to expand high-speed broadband Internet access for K-12 schools and libraries.

Blended and online learning models are leveling the playing field to ensure that every student has access to a high-quality, personalized, world-class education. The goal of these new learning models is to prepare learners for a lifetime of success, regardless of zip code or socio-economic background. Without high-speed Internet access, however, students can’t benefit from media-rich learning environments. Students’ access to these educational opportunities depends on adequate broadband connectivity in schools, homes and communities.

About E-Rate

The Federal E-Rate program provides discounts on telecommunications services, Internet access and connections for libraries and schools. E-Rate was established in the 1996 Telecommunications Act during the “dial-up” era. Congress gave the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the authority to determine appropriate program requirements and funding levels to address future changes in this telecommunications program. The current program is insufficient for the technology infrastructure needs of schools; demand for E-Rate funding to connect schools to high-speed broadband now outstrips the availability of funding in the current program by 2:1.

Last spring, iNACOL submitted comments to the FCC urging them to take action to modernize the E-Rate program, with specific examples and feedback from hundreds of iNACOL members.

In July, the FCC took an important step towards updating the E-Rate program. The FCC voted to set aside funding for improving internal Wi-Fi connectivity in schools and libraries, making the program more cost efficient. The order also addresses modernization issues by phasing out legacy services such as pagers and telephone landlines, and streamlines the application process.

The FCC has modernized and streamlined E-Rate for focusing funding on high priority needs such as wifi and to better maximize funding through partnerships for cost savings, and is addressing the funding cap.

Key FCC Vote on December 11

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is currently circulating a draft order to the FCC commissioners to raise the funding cap on E-rate. They will vote on this proposal on December 11.

If the order passes, it would increase the E-Rate funding cap by $1.5 billion to enable progress towards the goal of connecting 99% of students to high-speed broadband within the next five years.

Get involved

Ask the FCC to vote “YES” on social media. For example, tweet: “I believe #Internet4Schools matters. RT to tell the @FCC to vote yes to expand Internet access in schools.”

Thoughts on a new accountability paradigm

October 3, 2014 by

Recently, I was asked about starting a conversation on how a new accountability system might work.

The potential of new learning models that are personalized, student-centered and utilize powerful delivery modes in blended and online learning offer a glimpse into solving some of the core problems across our education systems for focusing on equity, improving access and expanding educational opportunity.

I think of this as a system aligned to student-centered learning. Meaningful data at the instructional level and systems of assessments provide much richer data than our current system utilizes. Imagine student data and evidence of students demonstrating their proficiency level (through a performance) on each and every standard along a learning progression.

Student-centered learning requires knowing where students are when they enter a program and requiring “systems of assessments” with entry benchmark assessment, formative assessments, performance-based assessments producing student evidence of demonstrated mastery, and underlying assessments producing various forms of data. Ultimately, this collection of data could answer the question, “How much learning is happening per unit of time?” — and help get to the heart of productivity.

One of the field’s constraints on thinking about new accountability is the construction of current IT/SIS systems designed only to ensure compliance with current regime.

Rethink student-centered data first. What if every student had a profile that was standards-based and allowed three pieces of evidence to be collected on each standard (paper/project/portfolios, evidence from embedded assessments, etc.)? What if that was coupled with validation of proficiency levels through summative assessments that are more modular in nature? (Summative assessments could also be on demand or, as Tom Vander Ark suggests, with a sampling to validate the data on the ground to ensure rigor.)

This system would enhance “actionable data” toward the point of instruction and provide real-time evidence of learning to teachers. This data can be rolled up to inform new accountability. Gene Wilhoit suggests we should include systemic thinking on how accountability should look by first focusing on the data needed for instruction and personalizing learning, and then asking what data is needed at what level:

  • What does the district need to know for accountability?
  • What does the state need to know for accountability?
  • What does the federal government need to know for accountability?

All of this could be provided (for the sake of argument) in a real-time dashboard.

We need to rethink our paradigm – we must rethink summative assessment utility as “moderating assessments” for the data on the ground. And have a sampling regime using them (but in more modular format throughout the year) as audits of that data. The current accountability system is actually masking the true achievement gaps that exist. It only tests for annual determination of age/grade cohorts. Redesigned accountability could use real, actionable data to roll up the analysis.

Gene Wilhoit, Linda Pittenger and Linda Darling-Hammond are already doing a lot of work on this concept of new accountability with a few pioneering states. Their new paper is Accountability for College and Career Readiness: Developing a New Paradigm and it rethinks what starting from scratch with a system that makes sense for a student-centered, deeper learning would look like.

From iNACOL/CompetencyWorks  Here’s a link to a paper we co-authored on the topic:

A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change

For focusing on equity, improving access and expanding educational opportunity, this alignment around student learning would help drive continuous change in these areas:

  • Equity – blended learning utilizes the best of online learning to pinpoint student needs and gaps and personalize instruction;
  • Improved access – online learning offers access to many courses that students need to graduate on time and to be prepared for college and careers;
  • Alignment around student learning – knowing where every student is on their personalized learning plan; focusing in on student interests and multiple ways of presenting evidence on rigorous standards to ensure student success; and offering assessments that are aligned every day to the learning process rather than “once a year” litmus tests that hold no teeth for kids, would help to reorganize the system around learning and student developing competencies.

Imagine new, constructive models that support achieving mastery and are meaningful to improvements in student learning – while offering much richer data to inform true accountability.

This is the beginning of a very important conversation in the field of K-12 education around new accountability. We very much hope to engage in pushing thinking around the challenge (and promise) of ensuring every student has access to a world class education that will prepare them for success, regardless of what zip code they live in.

Applauding Today’s FCC Vote to Improve E-Rate to Provide Greater Access to Innovative, Personalized Learning Environments for America’s Students

July 11, 2014 by

iNACOL congratulates the FCC for taking positive action to modernize the E-Rate program for U.S. schools and libraries and driving change for the public good in expanding access to broadband for our nation’s students.

Today’s vote toward a modernized E-Rate program is a significant step to ensure America’s students are prepared to meet future challenges. While we will continue to need the basics, our students need new skills and we need to update our education system to prepare all Americans for the challenges of the 21st century. Providing improved Internet access in our nation’s schools and libraries is a major step in the right direction. Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel have supported a crucial update of E-Rate to expand essential internal wi-fi connectivity for school and community learning environments. With this change, we applaud the FCC’s work to simplify and streamline the process for our schools and libraries.

This vote underscores how vitally important it is that education leaders continue to work with the FCC to strengthen and update the E-Rate program to make certain our students get the best education possible. Across the country, innovative educators are transforming learning environments to enable highly personalized learning experiences for students through blended and online learning. These new models of learning cannot succeed without high-speed broadband connections to schools and robust internal connectivity to bring those connections to each educator and learner.

Thanks to the leadership and support of the FCC today, more of America’s students will have access to these opportunities.

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E-Rate Update

July 3, 2014 by

The Federal Communications Commission released a report on July 2nd of the potential impact of a pending proposal to modernize the federal E-Rate program to meet a pressing demand by the nation’s schools and libraries: robust connectivity to the Internet through Wi-Fi networks. The report provides a state-by-state breakdown of the estimated number of additional students, schools and libraries that would gain E-rate funding needed for Wi-Fi upgrades over the next five years under the proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Nationwide, the proposal would increase funding for Wi-Fi 75 percent for rural schools and 60 percent for urban schools, allowing an additional 44 million students and 16,000 libraries to have access to Wi-Fi services by 2019, all within existing program funding.

Chairman Wheeler stated, “Modernizing E-Rate to expand Wi-Fi connectivity in schools and libraries will empower students and library patrons to use the latest education technology to access new learning opportunities and infinite worlds of information.”

On July 11, 2014, the FCC will vote on an E-Rate modernization proposal that would dramatically increase support for Wi-Fi connections in schools and libraries. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler put forward this proposal as the first step in comprehensively modernizing the program. The proposal has three goals:

  • Close the Wi-Fi gap – get high-speed Internet to all classrooms and libraries by 2019.
  • Make the program rules fairer – ensure funding is available to the vast majority of schools and libraries, not just a few.
  • Maximize existing funds – streamline the program and make it faster, simpler, more efficient for all schools and libraries.

You may read a copy of the report HERE.

 

 
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