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Policy, Pilots and the Path to Competency-Based Education: A Tale of Three States

Education Next – Karla Phillips and Carri Schneider

“Our nation’s traditional, time-based education system advances students based primarily on their age, regardless of their depth of understanding. By not ensuring mastery, the current system pushes students forward who are not yet ready, leaving them with gaps in critical knowledge or fundamental skills that must be remedied later. At the same time, the traditional system often prevents students from engaging more deeply in their interests, excelling when they are ready, or pursuing additional academic challenges. Over time, this outdated education system repeatedly fails far too many students. A different approach gaining interest is competency-based education (CBE), a system where students advance to higher levels of learning when they demonstrate mastery of concepts and skills regardless of time, place, or pace. (Note: The terms competency, proficiency and mastery are often used interchangeably.).”(more)

Derek B. Miller: Utah speaks the world’s languages

Deseret News – Derek B. Miller

“Utah boasts a robust and expanding K-12 dual-immersion program. Every day, children in over 130 schools across the state spend part of the day learning subjects in English and part of the day learning in another language. The benefit of this language training to Utah’s position as the nation’s fastest growing economy cannot be overstated. Utah is part of the global economy, and the language ability of our workforce gives Utah a tremendous competitive advantage. Beyond the basic linguistics, understanding the world’s cultures helps Utah to be an outward focused, internationally minded state…many other states across the country are initiating and expanding their own dual immersion programs. To whit, President Obama recently announced, in partnership with China President Xi Jinping, a goal for the U.S. to have 1 million K-12 students studying Mandarin by 2020…The benefits of this effort go well beyond having more U.S. students speaking Chinese.”(more)

Why ‘STEM’ is a big buzzword in education right now

FOX 13 Salt Lake City – Staff Writer

“STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a big buzzword in education now, especially with girls. Why? According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, girls and boys have similar abilities in math and science, but males are three times more likely to be interested in STEM majors and careers.1 Women only earn 18% of engineering degrees compared to 82% of men. We asked females working at the tech company IM Flash what advice they would give to girls who are trying to figure out what field to study. IM Flash, based in Lehi, Utah, makes memory and recruits engineers and technicians from all over the world to help make their chips.”(more)

Op-ed: Keep Utah’s language education momentum going through high school

The Salt Lake Tribune – Johanna Watzinger-Tharp, Ph.D.

“In 2008, with the passage of Senate Bill 41, the state of Utah made a firm commitment to educating its children in the public school system in two languages. Since then, Utah’s Dual Language Immersion Program has grown to include five languages (Chinese, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish) in 138 schools reaching some 29,000 students in grades 1 through 8…Does this work? Can students learn math in Spanish or German or Chinese? Unequivocally, the answer is yes: Students in Utah’s dual immersion programs perform as well or better than their non-immersion peers in core subjects such as language arts and math…Success tends to generate challenges, and Utah’s dual language immersion project faces an urgent one: Students who complete a world language AP course and exam in ninth grade will have no more high school language courses available to them…To bridge the imminent language education gap between 9th grade and enrollment in college, the University of Utah is seeking support from the 2016 Legislature on behalf of a state-wide public and higher education alliance…Now is the time to make sure we don’t squander the opportunity to make our students truly bilingual, biliterate and bicultural global citizens who successfully face the challenges of the 21st century.”(more)

Utah lawmakers eyeing early childhood education

The Deseret News – Morgan Jacobsen

“Lawmakers and education leaders are setting their sights on new funding and policies for early childhood education as they prepare for the 2016 legislative session. Adding to two bills that propose expanding full-day kindergarten, the Utah Legislature is considering a proposal for funding to extend more preschool options to disadvantaged students. Both initiatives are part of a focus state and education leaders hope will lead to better readers and more school-ready children among low-income families, minorities and other at-risk populations. “If we get high-quality (early childhood education) to these kiddos, that is huge for them. It changes their lives,” said Nannette Barnes, assistant director of preschool services at the Granite School District.”(more)

Parents should talk, sing, read and play with children for brain growth, new initiative urges

Deseret News – Katie McKellar

“Pediatrician Kerry Whittemore said she, like many other parents, feels silly when she tells her 10-month-old that there are dinosaurs on his pajamas. “It sometimes feels a little bit strange to having a completely one-sided conversation, but it’s the best thing you can do for your child to learn a language,” she said. That’s the aim of “Talking is Teaching,” a national campaign to encourage parents and caregivers to talk, read, sing and play with their children beginning at birth to enhance brain growth and learning capacity.”(more)