CCSSO Innovation Lab Network: Transforming Teaching and Learning Through Competency Based Education, Part 1

On April 3, 2014 the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) and the Council of Chief State School Officials (CCSSO) co-hosted the second installment of a three-part webinar series on creative educational practices titled “CCSSO Innovation Lab Network: Transforming Teaching and Learning Through Competency Based Education.”  This post is the first in a two-part series highlighting key conversations from the presenters.

Rob Darrow from iNACOL began the webinar with introductory background information on iNACOL. Their strategic areas of focus are in online and blended learning, as well as competency-based education (CBE) through policy, quality, and new learning models.

Beth Colby, Senior Program Associate at CCSSO, returned as a speaker in this series to provide context surrounding the Innovation Lab Network (ILN). In 2009, CCSSO created ILN to support the belief that the public education system needs to be transformed in order for all students to be college and career ready. The nine states involved in the ILN include California, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Each state creatively addresses their learners’ needs as they take collective action to identify, test, and implement student-centered approaches to learning. CCSSO, through the ILN, aims to ignite system-level change by scaling locally-led innovation to widespread implementation through enabling policy. CCSSO acts as a centralizing entity that encourages and facilitates collaboration and communication among districts and schools so they can share the lessons they’ve learned with each other.

Colby explained how CCSSO uses the ‘Six Critical Attributes,’ ILN’s design principles, to guide the restructuring of a new education system, and explained how these elements address the needs of new generation learners. These six attributes include world-class knowledge and skills, performance-based learning, personalized learning, comprehensive systems of learning supports, anytime/everywhere opportunities, and student agency.

By using the ILN design and help from CCSSO, school districts within the nine ILN states have been able to restructure their education system so that students have the best learning opportunities. One of the first districts to begin this process was Regional School Unit (RSU) #57 in Waterboro, Maine while a more recent school district to make this shift has been Muscatine Community School District in Iowa.  Both school districts offer their students ample ways to learn in different mediums and express their mastery of standards.

Check back on Thursday, August 28, for the second post in the series which provides a summary of the presentation from two districts implementing competency-based education.

Garet Fryar is a policy research assistant at the American Youth Policy Forum.


 Photo credit: Flickr


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