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Reflection: The Connection Between CBE and Preparation for College and Career

Reflection: The Connection Between CBE and Preparation for College and Career

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will consider how competency-based education helps prepare students for college and career. You will reflect on how you implement CBE in the classroom and ways that you can enhance your CBE skills.

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In this tutorial, we'll reflect on the connections between competency-based education and students' preparation for college and career readiness, or CCR. We'll begin by reviewing college and career readiness and competency-based education. Then we'll review the design principles of CBE. And I'll share with you a sample action plan that I have created based on my personal reflections. As I go through the process of reflecting on my own experiences, I hope that you will be inspired to reflect on your experiences, as well, and to create your own action plan.

Let's begin by reviewing college and career readiness and competency-based education. College and career readiness is the idea that we should be focusing on the 21st century skills, both foundational skills and technical skills, that students are going to need to master in order to be prepared for their future educational experiences and for their future careers. These skills include things like critical thinking and problem solving and teamwork.

College and career readiness can be approached through the use of competency-based education. This approach is being applied in many K-12 schools, as they look for ways to prepare their students with these necessary skills. CBE allows students to develop these CCR skills through competency-based practice.

Recall that iNACOL identified five design principles of competency-based education. Students advance upon mastering. Explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students. These learning objectives should also be transferable to other skill areas. Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. Students receive rapid, differentiated support that is based on their individual learning needs. And the learning outcomes that are emphasized include the application and creation of knowledge, along with developing important skills and dispositions.

So CBE really can support us as we are preparing our students for college and career readiness, as we implement all of these five strategies. So what I would like to do, at this point, is to reflect on my experiences implementing these five principles of competency-based education. And I want to identify both strengths and weaknesses, again, based on my personal experiences. These identified strengths and weaknesses are going to help me to develop my action plan, and I hope that as you reflect on your implementation of CBE, again, with that focus on college and career readiness, that it will help you to identify some action steps that you can take, as well.

So for me, in design principle number one, students advance upon mastery, I think I have both a strength and a weakness here. The strength is that I have adapted technology that is available to me in my classroom. So this allows me to fully implement this idea that students advance upon demonstrated mastery of the current concept or skill.

A downfall here for me is that I have not found a good way to implement multiple forms of assessment. One of the ideas in CBE is that students should be provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their proficiency. And I found that in this adaptive technology software, really, students are just redoing the same assessment over and over. And I haven't found this to be a great way to provide students with truly different ways to demonstrate their proficiency.

Moving on to design principle two, I think I have two strengths here. I think I do a good job of focusing on those transferable skills with my students. And I also always try to refer to the measurable verbs in Bloom's taxonomy as I am identifying those objectives for my students.

In design principle three, I think I've got a strength and a weakness here. I really, over the last several years, have increased my use of formative assessment in my classroom. But a potential weakness here is that I struggle with providing timely and specific feedback to my students. So even though I am gaining important data and information from the use of these formative assessments, I'm not sure that my students are getting everything that they should out of the use of these assessments.

In design principle four, I think I have two personal strengths here. I believe that one of my strengths as an educator is my ability to approach a topic or a skill from multiple angles. So if students come to me with questions, I think I do a good job of attacking a problem from another angle or seeing things from another point of view. And this helps me to provide that rapid, differentiated support to my students. I think another strength for me, in this area, is that over the years, I've built a really strong and robust toolbox of resources that I can use to provide that differentiated support for my students.

And finally, in design principle five, I think I've got a strength and a weakness. I think my strength occurs in my French courses, where I have done a thorough job of locating and creating projects that really do emphasize the application and creation of new knowledge. But I struggle with this in my math courses. I have found it difficult to locate, or even create, learning outcomes and assessments that really do include the application and creation of knowledge. So this is something that I would like to work on.

So I will walk you through my sample action plan, based on the three goals that I identified in my reflection. So let's look at each of these goals in turn. For that first goal, using multiple forms of assessment, I would like to search my curricular resources for some pre-designed options, because I don't want to reinvent the wheel. If I already have some options that would meet my needs here, I would like to use those.

I also plan to look for some inspiration online. And since I am now approaching summer vacation and hopefully, will have time to implement this plan over the summer, I would like to locate resources specifically for the first two units of the curriculum for the next school year. And then, after I have implemented these resources in those first two units, I would like to do some self-reflection to evaluate how I did here.

For the second goal of providing more timely and specific feedback after administering formative assessments, I plan to discuss some various communication options, not only with my colleagues, to see what they're doing, but also with the technology support staff. We have a one-to-one learning environment in my school, so each student has their own iPad. And so I feel like I could maybe take better advantage of or make better use of the email feature, and maybe some other communication features, on the iPad. I also would like to investigate communication options and feedback options that might already be integrated into Google, since we do use a variety of Google-based tools with our students.

My goal and my timeline here is to try out two new methods for communication during the first month of the next school year. And then, I would like to evaluate the effectiveness, not only from my point of view, but also by gathering some reflection and feedback from my students, to see what they're thinking of these methods. And then, finally, for this last goal-- finding assessments and learning activities for my math courses that focus on the authentic application and creation of products or knowledge, again, I want to begin by searching my already existing curricular resources. Maybe some of these innovative activities and assessments already exist, and I just haven't found them yet.

My next step is going to be to brainstorm some more authentic learning opportunities and also to look for possible connections in the community. There might be some organizations or opportunities available to my students in the community, that would foster this authentic experience. And so my timeline here is to locate or develop activities just for the first unit of instruction that's going to occur in the fall. And then, I would like to use feedback data from my students to help evaluate the impact of these activities on, not only students' motivation, but also their ownership of their learning, and just the overall perceived value of learning that results from these activities.

So you've heard about my goals and my sample action plan. Now, it's your turn. Take some time to reflect on your implementation of the five principles of competency-based education. Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses. And then, create an action plan that addresses the goals that you have formed for yourself from this reflection.

As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly-acquired skill set. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Reflection: The Connection Between CBE and Preparation for College and Career"

(00:00 - 00:38) Introduction

(00:39 - 01:25) Review CCR & CBE

(01:26 - 02:13) Review CBE Design Principles

(02:14 - 05:47) Model Reflection

(05:48 - 08:45) Sample Action Plan

(08:46 - 09:27) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

National College Transition Network (NCTN) Aspirations Toolkit

This toolkit was developed by career and college counselors to help build college readiness skills in students. The site has useful checklists and resources for the planning and readiness process.

Montgomery County Public Schools: Quality Tools for the Classroom

Scroll down to click on templates for action planning that can be used with the whole class or with individual students. These templates are helpful for goal setting and monitoring progress toward increasing achievement and goal attainment.