Tell your legislators NO to CBE

Now that the governor and state board seem to be interested in replacing Common Core with Utah standards (and that’s not the solution we’re looking for, but local control of standards, assessments, and curriculum at the district/school level), and SAGE tests are staggering from multiple body blows, what’s the “next thing” reformers want to impose on our children? Competency-based education (CBE).

Just say NO.

What is CBE? Let me point you to a fine resource that will help you understand the issues. The mastery of the parts does not equal the mastery of the whole. CBE is just the rename of “Outcome-based education” that was shot down decades ago, and now CBE must be shot down again. Just because we have digital tools now doesn’t mean it’s any more right for students today than it was back then .

Start here:

To the proponents of CBE, I would suggest that instead of personalized learning, we need personal learning. That’s not saying we need a greater teacher to student ratio, but we need to allow children to turn into self-learning adults. One major purpose of education should be to create life-long learners. I haven’t been in school for 25 years yet I continue to study and learn things because I enjoy it. Students need the same ability (and passion) of being interested in a subject without being told what to learn, when to learn it, and what’s on a test.

As students age through the system they need to be given more freedom of time to pursue their own interests. This can be a class period or more. Self-study should be required. Let them choose their own subject and present to the teacher a plan for their own mastery of the content at the level they want to master it. When they’ve done that let them present a plan for the next topic they want to dive into, whether it’s shallow or deep. When students pursue what they are curious about, they will learn it faster and better and the teacher can be there to guide the student in their own true journey. Completion of a unit would be writing a paper or doing a presentation for the class reflecting their mastery of that topic. That’s lifelong learning! Students could even review each others’ plans and challenge each other to perform.

Teachers in this class role could help students to obtain their own personal mastery, not some checklist of predefined mastery units or state standards. It is a grave disservice we do to students to tell them they have graduated when all they have done is learned to master what they have been told to do. If learning is truly self-learning, we need to reintroduce true self-learning to the school system.

Please read the above article and then contact your legislators and tell them you do not want Competency-Based Education in Utah. You want personal learning and local control.

5 thoughts on “Tell your legislators NO to CBE”

  1. Understand ESSA is riddled with Competency Based Learning. Also, Competency Bases Assessments will be the answer to parents out cries against the end of year high stakes testing. They will make parents think they listened to their concerns by giving CBE (the computer becomes the teacher) and CBA (testing all day everyday) And parents will think they got what they want. But CBE is part of ESSA and it has been the goal for decades. The only answer is to pull our kids out of the system while we fight this battle. We need to disband the US Dept. of Ed, get out of UNESCO/UN, repeal ESSA completely. My guess what needs to happen will never happen so again the only real solution for parents is to get our kids out of the public school system. There are so many ways to make it happen if parents care enough to make it happen.

  2. Oak,

    Do you have any evidence that this self-study approach works?

    Do we have any long-term studies of schools or classes where it was applied?

    If not, then this suggestion is just another untested idea.

    More theories are not what we need. One of the main problems with education is ideology-driven policy. Over and over, this or that program or policy is adopted and foisted on everyone because it “makes sense” and “should” work, but has never been piloted to any degree.

    1. Hi John, for one you could check out Sudbury schools where there are no classes and it’s all self-study and 42% of graduates become entrepreneurs instead of the 3% that is the public school average. You could also read Ron Paul’s book, “The School Revolution” which discusses this a bit as well.

  3. However, we should be careful to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The theory of CBE–that a child should be able to advance through school based on their learning and demonstrated master of material instead of being held back by arbitrary seat-time requirements–is a good one that I think has merit outside of any particular agenda or set of curriculum standards.

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