What does it mean to deliver powerful learning experiences and personalized pathways that build the knowledge and skills that students and communities need for future prosperity and success? Despite dramatic improvements in education over the last century, the one-size-fits-all, time-based system does not work as well as we need it to if we are going to ensure that all students succeed. In fact, the traditional system was designed to rank and sort students through a combination of practices: curriculum based on age and grade levels without regard for students’ previous experiences, grading policies that inflated or reduced grades based on behavior (or bell curves), not mastery. We have a system of age-based cohorts in an industrial model of education that sets different expectations for students based on their perceived ability or identity, and promotes students to the next grade level despite having not learned what they needed for more advanced learning.
Across the country, educators and policymakers are coming to the same conclusion: the structure of the traditional system is a barrier to equity and excellence and does not provide high-quality learning opportunities for all students. The premise of transforming education systems toward personalized pathways, connected to communities and aligned across K-16 and workforce needs points to a competency-based education system as a backbone to reimagine our structures and pedagogy. The traditional system, having been designed to sort students, must be and can be replaced with culture that all students can learn and thrive.
iNACOL's opening keynote plenary session will follow a TED Talk format, where extraordinary leaders such as BPL's Carlos Moreno, LEAP Innovations' Phyllis Lockett, and Future Focused Education's Tony Monfiletto will provide short, powerful talks sharing their journeys toward transformative learning connected to communities, future-focused careers and civic life. Their first-hand experiences in addressing tough questions, building upon local perspectives and wisdom, with an eye toward rethinking what is possible, are helping to drive the transformation of education systems and advance equity for all students.