Concerns About Competency Based Education

Competency based education (CBE), also called proficiency based education programs are metastisizing all over the country, including in Florida where there is a bill for a pilot program (HB 1365 Ray Rodriguez/ SB 1714 Brandes)  They are the next step in converting America's education system away from academic education and towards psychosocially-based workforce skills in the vision of Marc Tucker of the National Center for Education and the Economy.  The infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton envisioned a plan:


"to remold the entire American system" into "a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone," coordinated by "a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels" where curriculum and "job matching" will be handled by counselors "accessing the integrated computer-based program."

Here is a brief summary of grave concerns regarding competency-based or proficiency-based education
  •  There is no agreed upon definition of competency-based education and great subjectivity of program elements
  • There appears to be an emphasis on low-level workforce skills and behavioral/psychological parameters instead of academic knowledg
  • The psychosocial teaching and profiling of students has many concerns related to privacy guaranteed under the 4th amendment, freedom of thought, subjectivity and validit
  • Extensive data mining and sharing with third party vendors and the federal government without parental consent including for digital badges that results in much sensitive data being shared with third party vendors also without consent
  • Florida's data privacy law is based in the 40 year old, already weak federal FERPA law that has been gutted via regulatory fiat by the current administratio
  •  Horrific data security for data housed by the US Dept. of Ed evidenced after two US House Oversight Committee investigative hearings
  • The majority of education in these programs is computer based making teachers nearly irrelevant in the educational equation
  • Inability of the parent or teacher to actually see the curriculum or assessments because everything is online
  • Narrowing of curriculum to that which can be digitized
  • This is supposed to be funded by Gates Foundation grants when there is already a history of terrible results with Gates grants in Florida. Hillsborough County initially had to spend $100 million in taxpayer funds to match the Gates grant and then another $24 million beyond that for a program to train and evaluated teachers that has largely failed and been abandoned
  • Outrageous cost and ineffectiveness of technology based education such as $1.3 billion in Los Angeles and $270 million in Baltimore with evidence of bid rigging and crony capitalism, no effectiveness and neglect of many other needs in public schools
  • The Senate version requires districts to give a timeline for district-wide implementation before the pilot is finished (Lines 39-41)
  • There is no evidence that these programs work and some evidence that they do not given the new data showing that students taking the PARCC test online scored lower than those taking the test on paper
  • There is a five year length potentially causing great harm to the students of Lake, Palm Beach, and Pinellas counties that participate if it is a failure like so many other tech education programs have been.
The bottom line is that CBE will be collecting extremely diluted academic and sensitive psychological/socioemotional and family data on children; to do so in a necessarily subjective manner that seems to lack validity; to expose the subject children to possible negative consequences in their later schooling and careers, to entrust that data to agencies that are no longer governed by serious privacy law and that have proven they cannot or will not keep personal student data secure all for corporate profit instead of the benefit of Florida's children. For all of these reasons, we believe this pilot program should not proceed.

Full details and references for these concerns are available at:

Posted in School to Work. Tagged as Competency Based Education, data mining, non-cognitive skills, social emotional learning.

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