Online Framework Offers Teacher Competencies Assessment

iNACOL

A new framework has been created allowing K-12 teachers to assess their competencies in online and blended environments.

Created by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) and the non-profit Learning Accelerator, whose goal is the implementation of blended learning in schools across the country, the new framework discusses 12 specific competencies and effective practices across four domains that will aid in making new instructional methods more beneficial.

The authors of the framework reviewed existing practices in order to develop their new list of competencies. This list went through a “field test” with a committee of 36 educators and researchers in order to develop the final, official list.

The four domains include mindsets, qualities, adaptive skills and technical skills. The 12 competencies are located within these four domains, and each includes two or more standards by which success can be measured.

For example, the competency “Blended teachers should (have an) orientation toward change and improvement” is located in the mindset domain. The competency is defined by five standards: teachers should embrace change and model it; change should be initiated in response to each students’ needs; uncertainty should be accepted as a part of improving teaching skills; students should be encouraged to become independent and self-learners; and a professional responsibility to contribute should be demonstrated throughout the school and community.

“The key foundation to these competencies was the working group’s collective belief that teachers can be and are agents of learning and innovation in their communities,” said author Katherine Kennedy. “These competencies draw directly from promising practices and resources from our expert committee members and their organizations who are on the ground doing the work within the community.”

Co-author Beth Rabbitt added, “We believe this framework offers a clear but flexible starting point for the field in understanding evolving educator roles and practice. We hope that it will be helpful for a variety of actors to develop and organize resources that will help teachers learn and grow as blended educators.”

In a separate study, iNACOL found Course Access programs, which allow students to participate in online learning on a part-time basis, to be “a mechanism by which students can gain equitable access to a variety of courses in a programmatic effort to increase access, quality and equity in public education.”

The iNACOL policy brief, Course Access: Equitable Opportunities for College and Career Ready Students, found the program to be a solution for closing the achievement gap in K-12 education by offering affordable access to quality college and career preparation to all high school students. For example, Course Access provides all 32 Advanced Placement courses at a low cost, allowing schools to offer what it once could not afford to do.

“The funding model should allow for progression and funding based on demonstrated competency, not seat time,” and according to the brief, “Courses should have clear, explicit, mastery-based learning outcomes, and the funding model should reward providers for student attainment of these outcomes.”