Another challenge for the competency-based classroom: Explaining it

School may be out for the kiddos, but Iowa educators were studying hard this past week. The lesson? Competency-based education.  The idea is simple: Unchain learning from instruction time, placing students by proficiency, not age; allowing them to advance when they master their coursework, not according to calendar year.  Competency-based education should make intuitive sense to any parent who has watched his or her child struggle to keep up with lessons, or listened to them complain about how bored they are, waiting for other kids to get up to speed.  Competency-based education puts the focus on learning, not just showing up. It removes much of what disengaged students, rightly, see as arbitrary and unfair.

We’re not machines, learning new skills and ideas at a uniform rate. So why teach as if we were?  Well, it’s how our schools are structured, for starters. Unhooking curriculum from the school calendar creates a number of logistical headaches.  How do you plan for space and staff? How do you manage a classroom when students come and go?  It’s the final piece of statewide school reform outstanding, and it’s a big one.

Read the entire article by Jennifer Hemmingsen in The Gazette at

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