“Sentence first…verdict afterwards." -The Queen (Alice in Wonderland)
Sent to the Concord Monitor, Oct 27
The Concord Monitor is enthusiastic about competency-based education (CBE) ("Pittsfield Elementary School adopts competency-based, multi-age classroom program," Oct 27).
CBE is course-work delivered online to schools, with content generally based on the common core. Students work individually on computers, and are allowed to move from module to module only when they have "mastered" the current module. Mastery is determined by passing a test, also delivered online. Testing is thus now a daily fact of schools using CBE.
CBE modules must contain material that is specific and measurable, that is, easy to test. This severely limits what can be included in class.
It is claimed that CBE is "personalized," but only rate of working through the programs is truly personalized. Given the fact that speed of working through modules is the criterion for determining student, teacher, and school success, the pressure on students to work quickly is strong.
A recent report from the National Governor's Association, a group enthusiastic about CBE, includes this statement: "Although an emerging research base suggests that CBE is a promising model, it includes only a few rigorous evaluations and analyses of current and ongoing CBE pilots and similar programs."