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Skills Gap – Competency is more than the mastery of a discrete academic standard

Competency is more than the mastery of a discrete academic standard. True competence is deeper and broader. It includes academics as well as a wide range of other cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills not typically included in academic subjects or college and career readiness learning standards.

Competency also requires the combination of knowledge and skills across multiple domains and implies the capacity to apply and transfer learning from one situation to the next, leading to the ability to adapt and innovate in the face of novel problems and contexts. Although deeper notions of competency outlined in this paper are not a required component of CBE, they are more re ective of educators’ goals for preparing students to be college and career ready Deeper notions of competency are also more firmly grounded in research on the way students learn (Bransford et al , 2000) and more aligned with the competencies valued by employers. (Adams, 2014; Trilling & Fadell, 2009) Rather than distracting or diluting from academic learning, research suggests that students’ competency in cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal domains is associated with students’ enhanced success in school (Farrington et al , 2012; Wentzel & Watkins, 2011) To realize the promise of CBE, educators will need to go beyond individual academic standards when de ning what it means to be competent. Many states have adopted rigorous college and career readiness standards that lay a solid foundation for de ning competency within core academic disciplines There are three additional steps that states can take to achieve the breadth; depth; attitudes, mind-sets, and motivation; metacognitive skills; and capacity for application and transfer associated with true college and career readiness:

  • First, states can combine and integrate discrete standards to create competencies that re ect more complex sets of academic knowledge and skills than do individual standards
    Rather than distracting or diluting from academic learning, research suggests that students’ competency in cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal domains is associated with students’ enhanced success in school.
  • Second, states can further expand and enrich these competency areas by integrating additional cognitive, metacognitive, and intrapersonal and interpersonal skills within defined academic competency areas.
  • Third, states can strengthen their definitions by explicitly including an expectation that students be able to transfer and apply learning, and generate new knowledge and skills, in their demonstrations of competency.

Although defining what it means to be competent is a critical first step, it is only the first step. The realities of our high-stakes accountability era necessitate that we also find ways to measure competency. Finding ways to build on college and career readiness standards is an essential and valuable piece of this work. If our aim is to promote deeper competency, however, we will also need to devise ways to authentically and accurately capture students’ deeper and personal competencies, and be able to measure their capacity to apply and transfer their learning to real-life situations. This is no small feat. Several states, such as New Hampshire, are currently developing alternative approaches to measuring competency, such as performance assessment tasks that can help capture students’ mastery of more complex knowledge and skills, and gauge their capacity to apply their learning to novel problems and contexts. This wider array of assessment methods may enable educators to both measure and promote students’ learning and ultimately build a new generation of assessments that can effectively capture students’ deeper and personal competencies.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Competency-Based Education: Staying Shallow or Going Deep? | College and Career Readiness and Success Center

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