and The Student Experience
In personalized learning environments, instruction must be tailored to students’ specific academic needs, personal interests, and learning styles. It allows them to learn at their own time and pace, working on their studies whenever they want, at a rhythm that is most comfortable to them. Students get the flexibility to learn in places beyond the brick-and-mortar school and are empowered to learn through teachers, peers, technology, and real-world
experiences. It’s designed to improve the outcomes of all students, including those with disabilities, English learners, and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Personalized systems have the potential to connect all students with highly effective teachers and specialized content to quickly address students’ strengths and challenges.
Competency-based learning happens through the demonstration of a student’s knowledge and skills, with students only able to move on to new content when results and evidence indicate they have mastered the content. Instead of counting the number of hours students are in their seats, students move through coursework and graduate based on their ability to show they have mastered the material.
What are the challenges?
- Delaware’s existing education regulations leave little flexibility for district or statewide adoption of competency-based learning models.
- There aren’t any districts in Delaware that have embraced a competency based model.
Align Delaware’s policy structure for earning credits, progressing through grade levels, transitioning through grade clusters, and the teacher of record policy to support competency-based models.
Allow seat-time waivers for districts/schools piloting competency-based courses, to allow students to complete courses at their own pace based on meeting learning targets and goals.
Modify high school transcript and grading systems to emphasize academic mastery, and collaborate with higher education admissions to ensure acceptance of the transcript as a valid form of proof of college readiness.
Create and implement assessments that accurately measure competencies, analyze assessment results to determine student who are below mastery level, plan differentiated lessons to address the individual needs of each student, and use technology to create blended learning classrooms that allow for multiple leveled activities and centers.
To read more about what competency-based learning might look like in a school setting, read this article about Lindsay Unified School District in California.
Extended Learning Opportunities
Allowing students the opportunity to learn by doing is key to their academic success and to personalizing the learning experience of students. Extended learning opportunities (ELOs) give students the ability to earn credit for learning completed outside of the traditional school day/ year.
- dual enrollment
- summer programs
- after-school programs
- programs at community-based partner organizations such as local libraries and museums
What are the challenges?
- Currently, ELOs in Delaware are limited in most cases to internship and dual enrollment options, and should be inclusive of non profit partners, education institutions, and community leaders.
- ELO policies vary by district, especially with regard to the types of opportunities for which students may receive credit, which students may participate in the program, and how students apply for and receive credit.
- Districts that presently offer these opportunities often have issues staffing such a program because of a lack of funds and a dedicated role within their district.
Create a statewide network of ELOs in conjunction with the business community, non profit partners, education institutions, and community leaders.
Establish guidelines for ELO providers with regard to program requirements needed in order to be an ELO qualifying program, including what competencies can be demonstrated through ELOs and how students can demonstrate those competencies.
Policymakers can provide districts with the flexibility to allocate staff time to manage ELO programs, allowing districts sufficient staff capacity for the management and oversight of ELO programs. Appropriate management is needed to ensure that students have access to meaningful opportunities from a variety of community partners.