For District, Building, and Teacher Leaders:
What is Competency-based learning and how do Professional Learning Communities support this work? Self-assessment and current reality. Develop collective understanding of what comprises a competency-based system and reflect (using a tool) on their current reality, establish a baseline. Clarify district-wide “tight and loose”. Leaders identify areas of strength and areas for growth. Principals reflect on the structures in their school to support the change process (PLCs). Determine possible next steps
For Teachers New to Competency-Based Learning:
Learn what it means to have a competency-based learning mindset. Provide a strong introduction to the shifts in practice they need to make and ideas they need to understand to be successful.
Having data to support informed decisions is a critical first step. Survey constituencies including Teachers, Staff, Students, Parents, and Community Leaders. Develop survey questions with district leaders. Topics may include professional development, Portrait of a Learner, Competency-based Learning assessment, student demographics, and additional questions specific to the district. NHLI will create and launch the survey. Collect data safely and securely. Present data to district leaders.
Transitioning to a competency-based learning system takes time and leadership from more than building administrators, it requires coordination and communication within the entire system. Distribute leadership throughout the district and a school. Build scaffolding to support a transition of this magnitude to be implemented with fidelity. District-wide leaders down to classroom teachers participate and own this process. Engage in reflective self-assessment and subsequent action planning. NHLI will provide coaching for established PLCs at all different levels of the district.
Develop the structural understanding of how to move schools forward within the leadership of the district, building, and teachers. Engage in reflective self-assessment and subsequent action planning. Ongoing coaching to support the development of the critical structures within each school and the district. Clarify the why (mission), connect the vision (how do we support the mission), develop collective commitments, and set goals. Collaborate in the curriculum, instruction, and assessment work. This will be aligned throughout all schools in the district.
Assessment is a meaningful, positive, and empowering learning experience for students that yields timely, relevant, and actionable evidence of learning. Implement methodologies that promote meaningful learning through balanced systems of assessment—Formative and Summative Assessments. Understand how to create the environments that allow students to learn. Demonstrate the ability to support student agency. Provide competency-based formative assessment. Design and implement quality performance tasks that lead students to deep and long-lasting learning.
Realign district curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices to a competency-based system is a step-by-step process. Map competency expectations and curriculum within the system. Identify targets for performance assessment and provide the framework for vertical alignment—across grade level and discipline teams—to identify specific needs of those grades and content areas. NHLI will create a K-12 competency document with input from teachers who will also participate in reviewing, editing, and finalizing the competencies and standards. This curriculum and assessment backward design work and instructional shifts lead to aligning assessments and units of study with the competencies. The next step is to establish expectations for evidence of competency and to determine expectations across the academic year. Using learning progressions and grade level expectations, NHLI will map out formative and summative assessment practices, reassessment strategies, and personalized student pathways for learning. NHLI will record the work of teachers and create district documents to reflect the final competencies.
FLP Teams are comprised of between 5-10 stakeholders from a district. They meet four times a year with all FLP teams, and NHLI staff provide individualized coaching for teams on site. The overall purpose of FLP is to ensure equity and opportunity for all students, supporting students to “Wayfind” and schools to customize how students find their way to success after High School. The agenda for each year changes as FLP teams identify areas that are most helpful. Click here to register a team from your district.
The POL is a collaborative process to define a vision (a north star) for student success after High School by identifying competencies valued by the entire community. Partners in this process include representatives from the district, the school(s), family, business and industry, and community members. NHLI believes this process needs to be developed over time and cannot begin in high school but is part of system thinking K-12. And that using data from all constituencies informs the process and keeps the Portrait sustainable. NHLI will conduct and guide the POL process from data gathering, to portrait development, to community reveal. Contact NHLI if you are interested in developing or enhancing a POL.
Our district has been working with NHLI for three years now, and they have become an important partner in our work to develop substantive professional development resources in-house for our faculty and administrators.