With permission to share this information, this comes from Sue O’Connor who is a current member of the Rochester Board of Education. Rochester implemented Competency Based Education a few years ago along with the PACE assessments.
(PACE assessments = Competency Based Assessments)
Competency Based Education is the old failed fad from the 90’s. Education reformers change the name to fool parents into thinking this new reform is new and innovative.
It is not:
This is testimony given in Concord, NH a few years ago when I was trying to help stop the implementation of competency based education. I did my homework and had years of research. It is all about money and individuals who wish to be “first”, it has nothing to do with our kids getting an education.
Rochester is in the midst of Competency Based Education, which is formerly known as Outcome Based Education, Goals 2000, etc. These have been a failure and removed from schools decades ago. How quickly we forget the lost generations from these fiascos, now there will be yet another lost generation.
Going forward, it is important to understand that Competency Based Education and CCSS are all tied together as this was a requirement when obtaining a waiver from NCLB. It is also mandatory if a district is attempting to obtain a waiver from Smarter Balanced Assessment. There are so many strings attached to our children being able to get an education. So when one talks about competency based education in New Hampshire you also have to consider the ramifications of having both CCSS and Competencies together.
As a community, we were not ready whatsoever to have competencies thrust upon our teachers or our students. As a board member and taxpayer, the community was lied to with regard to competencies. As a school board member, I was made aware that we had teachers who questioned competencies and when they did not let the issues drop they were removed from the development committee. Is this not why we have teachers on a committee, for their opinion? For their expertise? This tells me that there was an agenda, one that did not have the best interest of our children in mind. When it came time to for the vote by the board, there were many unanswered questions. When the superintendent was asked if the board voted against competencies would it end, he informed us that it will happen no matter what the outcome of the vote.
Our children who excel are now bored, unmotivated, and suffer from mediocrity. There is absolutely no “rigor” to the competencies. Rigor is another one of those words that is overused and has lost its true meaning. I have seen the work from 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades and, in my opinion, it is substandard. There is also less work performed now than previously. Pundits will tell you that it is narrow in scope and more in depth. My grandson is interested in Marine Biology focusing on sharks. There is nothing being taught in the schools that will build on his desire to learn more in this area. His parents are looking into VLAC to support the lack of education he is receiving.
Most days there is no homework, which is important as this gives the student the chance to practice what they have learned during the day alone and this lets the student know whether they understood what they were taught.
The concept of students redoing work and assessments again and again and again is not teaching them what they need as far as an education goes or any work ethic they will need for the future. This is a practice in the middle and high school. Students putting off doing work knowing that they will always be graded C for competent. What about the child who works hard, hands their work in on time and only attains a C? Competency Based Education is a very moral defeating system. Adults know that they cannot make the same mistakes again and again and again and expect to have a job.
Why teach our children this way? A lack of responsibility has reared its ugly head on the part of some teachers, administrators, and students. Students are not held accountable. In the high school we have teachers that are not following the format of competencies. Parents are told that there are no do overs in specific classes. Which goes against the fundamental design of competencies, which is to allow unlimited attempts at mastering the information. The lack of mastery is due to having basically all the time in the world to get it done.
I am totally at a loss of what is being taught in our middle school with regard to ELA. When my grandson was in the 6th grade his book reports consisted of coloring pictures. Actually, he was following the same project line as his sister who was in 2nd grade. Now that he is in 7th grade he has yet to do a book report, but if he did he would be making cereal boxes and chip bags. Yes you are reading this correctly.
This may be rigorous for the students who struggle, but insulting to those who do not. Those who are pushing Competency Based Education do not tell parents that “success” for all children means “success” in demonstrating only the dumbed-down outcomes that the slowest learners in the class can attain. Competency Based Education means “success” in mediocrity rather than excellence, as a true competency is precise and complex and needs to constantly be reviewed and updated.
There is no funding for special programs for our gifted children. Competency Based Education is based on the fact that the student has “mastered” the material. Most research/opinion papers/point papers are based on the fact that Competency Based Education had been implemented in the post-secondary education setting, with a major influence in the health science field, as competency based education takes into account life skills the learner needs and the demands of the workplace. Given the age of the students who will be subjected to Competency Based/Outcome Based Education, if they have not “mastered” the material in the elementary grades what “life skills” will they be bringing to their future employer? In elementary grades, Competency Based Education does not teach children essential reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, but pretends to teach them “higher order thinking skills” instead. Competency Based Education ignores the obvious fact that one cannot engage in higher order thinking until one has some facts to think about. All of you should be asking, “Where is the replicable research or studies that show that it works?”
Many parents have asked me, as a school board member, when the nonsense in school will stop and go back to the way it used to be. When I child received a 95% on a test it meant the child received an A. In most cases the child just gets a C, which is all that is required out of the teachers. Schools have become too touchy feely, over survey our students with invasive questions about home life, and teach to the test and nothing else.
As far as college and career ready, that term is a misnomer. I have been contacted by parents whose children are in honor classes, they have been asked if their child really intends to attend college. They are asked this because going forward as the student requires higher math classes, the parent was informed that, if there are only three or four students who sign up the class will be canceled, but in reality there may not be a qualified teacher available to teach trigonometry or calculus, but not to worry because CCSS only requires the highest level of math is Algebra II.
I realize that it is the 21st century, but young children still learn and need the drill and kill method to master the basics. When parents work with their children at home that is exactly what they are doing when learning the times tables and spelling words.
I realize that when it comes to education most, if not all are politically motivated. The best interest of the child is not taken into account when decisions are made to implement fad programs. They are taking advice from people who have never taught in a classroom, but wish to rule the world, it is all about building a resume and selling your soul to the devil to make money.
I have advised many families to either home school or remove their children from the topics they find offensive and to opt out of testing. I do this because the child is the most important part of the equation that politicians seem to forget about. It is our children’s education that politicians are spinning the roulette wheel on and it is our children who are losing.
Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org