Policy Brief; March, 2015

Competency and project based learning policy paper

Basic Policy Questions;

There are many complex layers to implementing competency-based and project-based learning, including creation of authentic assessments. This paper focuses on analysis and strategies that might be considered without needing to completely dismantle the current public school system.

  1. The kind of school. Is there a difference between competency and project based learning at the elementary level – where one teacher is responsible for all subjects – and a middle or high school environment – where there are distinct subjects, realms of knowledge, disciplines, and teacher credentials? If the answer is yes, how would we talk about and address these two educational delivery environments?
  2. Out of school success. Looking at middle and high schools, is it possible to recognize and incorporate authentic learning contexts, such as success in music performance, success in visual arts, success in the science fair, success in History Day, and success in the Speech League? If the answer is yes, are there ways to provide both funding and “equivalency credits” for success in these areas?
  3. Progressive projects. Is it possible to create a progressive series of competencies and projects from elementary through high school that does not require a major overhaul of the State’s GLOs, Learning Objectives and Benchmarks? If the answer is yes, can Complex Areas be tasked with creating these?
  4. Doing what adults do. Is it possible to look at how adults use specific areas of learning as a guide for constructing the progressive series of competencies and projects culminating in a mature portfolio upon graduation? For example, rather than learning about history, would it be possible to require students actually write history – a biography, a history research paper, the history of an event or a place?   Rather than learning how to read and write English in a generic sense, would it be possible to require students to produce a set of poems, short stories, a novel, a screen play, a play?   Rather than learning about biology, would it be possible to require that all students pose a scientific hypothesis and then design and implement experiments to prove or disprove it?
  5. Authentic assessments. We do not judge competency in music through a written test – experts listen to the audition or performance. We do not judge a hula competition through a written test – experts, kupuna – watch and judge. We do not admit any athlete to a team via a written exam – they must try out. And for awarding high quality teachers a special national credential – great and experienced teachers observe and judge. The essential question is whether it is possible to use experienced and expert assessors – such as the judging at the science fair – as a supplement to traditional assessments.

Policy Brief; 2002

In 2002, HEPC conducted an analysis of Hawaii BOR policies when it comes to school empowerment. After revisiting them, we have found them to be still applicable to many of today’s policies. Take a look!

HEPC- Analyzing BOE Policies RE School Empowerment

Article; October, 2014

NYC small school project shows promising results.

From NPR, a recent project done by MDCR, funded by the Gates Foundation, which enrolls 100 students per grade shows promising results in getting students to enroll in college. Read the full article here.

Article; October, 2013

New Report out shows large variations in Teacher Evaluation between States.

A new report out from the Center of Public Education looks trends occurring in Teacher Evaluations between the states. Find the report here.

Article; October, 2013

Assessments/Common Core State Chiefs Set Criteria for ‘High-Quality’ Assessment.

State superintendents are demanding that testmakers, including the two consortia building tests for the common standards, adhere to four principles to create “high-quality assessment.” A Council of Chief State School Officers report describes how assessment practice should ensure test accessibility and security, and create user-friendly reports that chart students’ progress and provide data that can help guide instruction. (Education Week, premium article access compliments of, 10/01/13)

CCSSO Assessment Quality Principles 10-1-13 FINAL

Article; September, 2013

Three Ways to Derail the Common Core Standards

HEPC’s Director, Jim Shon, writes for Huffpost Hawaii, on how the Common Core can be derailed.  Find the  publication here.

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