Home > Uncategorized > “Micro credentials” for Teacher Recertification COULD Open the Door to Mastery Learning in the Classroom, OR Micro-Vouchers

“Micro credentials” for Teacher Recertification COULD Open the Door to Mastery Learning in the Classroom, OR Micro-Vouchers

January 7, 2018

Earlier this week  Education Week published an article by Stephen Sawchuk titled “Inching Toward Relicensurc, One Microcredential at a Time”. In the article, Mr. Sawchuk describes a re-certification process Tennessee is piloting whereby teachers can get their teacher’s license renewed by completing a series of “microcredentials”, which he defines as “badges (teachers earn) by submitting evidence that they’ve mastered small components of instruction; their submissions are scored by outside reviewers. It strikes me that the concept of micro credentials would help teachers transfer the concepts of mastery learning implicit in the awarding of micro credentials to teaching in their classroom. Instead of “covering” material in a set time frame and then assessing students on that material using a pencil-and-aper test, teachers might see the value of assuring that the students are fully prepared by “…submitting evidence that they’ve mastered small components” of the course and have that evidence reviewed by outsiders. That could be a very favorable outcome of this pilot program.

There is a downside to this concept, though, unless public schools fully embrace mastery learning. Namely, the awarding of micro credentials for teachers could lead to the awarding of micro vouchers for students. Longstanding readers of this blog might recall reading about this similar concept that was presented in a book by Lewis Perelman in his 1992 book titled “School’s Out: Hyperlearning, the New Technology, and the End of Education”. Perelman envisioned a day when employers and colleges would focus more on the demonstrated mastery of material instead of the issuance of a diploma, and envisioned a day when something akin to wait badges would serve as the vehicle for demonstrating mastery. He took this a step further, suggesting that instead of public schools being the sole source of certifying mastery, private enterprise might step in and the marketplace would winnow out the purveyors of worthwhile credentials from those who were issuing slipshod “badges”.

Obtaining micro credentials is analogous to on-line learning in that it is far more convenient than traditional coursework at a college or university that requires travel time and fixed times for courses. Once teachers discovered on-line alternatives to traditional courses they flocked to them, with some earning Master’s Degrees in less than two years. Their use of on-line courses to earn credits made it difficult for them to push back when students sought the same opportunities… even though those on-lne opportunities could ultimately result in fewer jobs at the high school level. If teachers begin earning micro credentials, will that similarly open the door for students to seek the same kind of avenues? And, if so, will that open the door to the micro-vouchers Lewis Perelman wrote about over 25 years ago?

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