CBE Task Force Report [updated]

Update: Here’s an article from THE Journal about CBE in New Hampshire.

The Competency-Based Education Task Force Preliminary Report is now available for download here.

I am interested in the move to permit CBE in Iowa and have previously blogged about it here and here.  I hope that CBE opens the door for more public Montessori programs in Iowa (we only have one–Cowles Montessori in Des Moines) and I encourage the task force members and anyone else interested in CBE to please go visit a Montessori school to see a version of CBE in action.

A few quick reactions . . .

I recognized quite a few of the names of the task force members–possibly a sign I need to develop some other hobbies and interests.

I now cringe whenever I see Bloom’s Taxonomy or “rote memorization” or “regurgitating.”  Critical thinking didn’t just get invented and there is nothing wrong with knowing stuff–in fact there is an expectation that educated people will know things.  Why else would people laugh when high school graduates are unable to tell Jay Leno which countries fought with us and which against us in World War II?  See also the tree octopus problem.

I think the notion that today’s students are dramatically different from students of the past is overblown.  That doesn’t mean that educational practices shouldn’t change, just that there ought to be other reasons for making the change.  I’ll note here that I think other reasons might exist for offering CBE but I think these reasons should be publicly discussed in communities deciding whether to offer CBE.

. . . and a reservation.

On pages 25-26 of the Preliminary Report, there is a discussion of the merits of asking the Legislature to mandate CBE for all schools.  Given that the two districts highlighted in the Report began offering CBE in January and August 2012 it seems premature to offer the following recommendation.

When that work is significantly underway so as to promote quality competency-based learning environments across the state, we recommend the Legislature mandate that all schools make competency-based pathways available to all students.

The Task Force is exploring interesting territory here, but I am increasingly opposed to programs being imposed upon community schools, no matter how good they might be.