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5 Steps for Utah to Cultivate Competency-Based Learning

• ExcelinEd

Karla Phillips and Tom Vander Ark at Utah conference | Image Source:

Karla Phillips and Tom Vander Ark at Utah’s Joint Education Conference
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States, districts and schools are continually striving to find the right balance between innovation and improvement in education. Utah is no exception.

Last week, ExcelinEd’s Karla Phillips joined Utah lawmakers, state board members and education leaders for a Joint Education Conference. During the two-day event, Karla and Getting Smart’s Tom Vander Ark had the chance to discuss competency based education.

They’ve shared some thoughts from the conference in a recent post and make a thoughtful argument that innovation and improvement can and should co-exist. Read an excerpt from the piece below or visit Education Week for the complete story.

Utah EdLeaders Consider Competency
By: Karla Phillips and Tom Vander Ark
Education Week

…We shared five potential next steps for Utah education leaders:

  1. Flexibility from Time Based Systems. Eliminate policies that tie the award of credit to the amount of minutes spent in a classroom and provide flexibility from mandatory time-based attendance reporting requirements as well as required 180-day annual calendars and fixed amounts of daily instructional minutes per day.
  2. Facilitate Higher Education Acceptance. Develop a certification or other assurance that higher education will recognize for competency-based diplomas.
  3. Transition to Proficiency-Based Diplomas. Amend graduation requirements to require that diplomas must be competency-based and specifically preclude the use of seat-time for credit acquisition and redefine course and credit requirements as competencies.
  4. Create Innovation Districts and Schools. To empower innovative leaders who already have a clear vision for transition to a competency based system, states can authorize a competency-based pilot.
  5. Encourage Anytime, Anywhere Learning. Encourage learning out-of-school, after-school, and before school activities. Eliminate policies that impede a school’s ability to award credit for extended learning opportunities…

Read this complete piece at Education Week.

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