This Commitment To Action (CTA) is two-pronged and will be implemented over three years.
First, it entails scaling up the APS Badge Initiative, while partnering with higher education institutions to provide value and recognition of students credentials. This may take the form of articulation agreements and offering earned credit to help students get ahead in their pursuit of college degrees and certificates.
Second, the partnership with ACTFL will bring the action to five geographically diverse school districts across the country (tentatively: Aurora, Colorado, Fairfax, Virginia, and three others) and allow for an unprecedented number of bilingual students to receive credentials acknowledging language proficiency in their first languages. The credentials will serve as model evidences toward attainment of the Seal of Biliteracy in participating states and districts. Additionally, these credentials will carry weight with both colleges and employers. This CTA will have a particular focus on establishing agreements with colleges to adopt the ACE Credit Recommendations in awarding college credit hours corresponding to the language proficiency levels demonstrated and credentialed.
Verses Education brings experience in Digital Badges and educational training, and a support network of experts. Aurora Public Schools has commitment at all levels to issue badges to learners who master the Colorado Academic Standards 21st Century Skills (Invention, Critical Thinking, Self-direction, Collaboration and Information Literacy). APS and ACTFL are building relationships in the higher education community to facilitate partnerships to recognize the credentials. ACTFL has established tools to validate language proficiency and secured American Council on Education (ACE) Credit Recommendations for language proficiency that will guide conversations with colleges willing to offer value for language credentials.
The most essential partners in this effort are teachers. As time demands will be a major challenge, teachers will receive high quality, differentiated professional development and the opportunity to enroll in a graduate level course to receive credit for their learning and work as an incentive.
August 2015: Confirm partnerships, roles and agree to Memorandums of Understanding.
October 2015: Complete organizational models and support models.
November 2015: Deliver draft Tool Kits and Training Materials
December 2015: Secure partial funding for 2016 financial needs. Finalize 2.0 Tool Kits and Training Materials.
January 2016: Begin language proficiency pilot with schools in 5 geographically diverse districts. Form a Credential Validation Commission to study and evaluate evidence validity of 21st Century Skills credentials.
April 2016: Establish pilot agreements with institutions of higher education to provide previously earned credit.
June 2016: Conduct stakeholder engagement focus groups. Secure remaining 2016 funding.
August 2016: Release 2.0 Tool Kits and Training Materials
October 2016: Begin planning Oct 2017 Digital Badge Summit.
December 2016: Secure partial funding for 2017 and 2018 financial needs. Initial higher education credits issued to students.
January 2017: Scale APS Digital Badges to 15-20 schools in Aurora Public Schools. Credential Validation Commission report on evidence validity evaluation.
March 2017: Publish ACTFL white paper studying impact of Year 1 language proficiency credentials.
April 2017: Expand partnerships with higher educational institutions.
June 2017: Conduct stakeholder engagement focus groups. Higher education credits issued to students.
July 2017: Secure remaining 2017 funding.
August 2017: Establish partnerships and agree to Memorandums of Understanding with community partner organizations for expanded opportunities of alternative credentials, including through online platforms. Release 3.0 Tool Kits and Training Materials.
September 2017: Publish APS white paper studying 2 year impact of Recognizing Assets & Opening Doors.
October 2017: Host Digital Badge Summit in Colorado.
December 2017: Evaluate pilot programs with institutions of higher education.
January 2018: Scale APS Digital Badges to 20-25 schools in Aurora Public Schools. Secure remaining 2018 funding.
May 2018: Higher education credits issued to students.
June 2018: Conduct stakeholder engagement focus groups
Resumes and transcripts do not effectively communicate whether applicants possess valued soft skills and language proficiency needed to succeed in the workplace. Conversely, job seekers are challenged to effectively communicate their assets to prospective employers, especially if candidates lack related job experience and relevant credentials. Verses Educations Commitment to Action, Recognizing Assets and Opening Doors, addresses this problem by advancing a Digital Badge System that offers validated credentials in 21st Century Skills and language proficiency.
Aurora Public Schools (APS) launched a Digital Badge Initiative wherein it began piloting a Badge System in January 2015. Through this system, lead-teachers at 16 schools have begun issuing Digital Badges that credential students (PreK-12th Grade) in 21st Century Skills named in the state standards, such as Critical Thinking and Collaboration. Several area employers such as Walking Tree Travel, Boulder Engineering Studios, and Stanley Aviation have committed to recognizing and valuing the credentials by providing opportunities such as job shadows and internships that align with the Badges for the skills valued the most in specific industries. 100 such opportunities have been secured for the 2015-16 school year.
Verses Education is committed to creating an ecosystem that provides evidenced-based, validated Digital Badge credentials that recognize assets in soft skills and language proficiency in order to create opportunities with employers and institutions of higher education. This ecosystem includes students and families, schools, industry partners and employers, non-profits and other third party validators.
The ACTFL National Language Proficiency Credential will offer students with language proficiency in their native languages ACE Credit Recommendations that correspond to their levels of proficiency. The cost of the assessments and the ACE transcripts would be benefited by financial and media support.
The APS Digital Badge System was based on the 21st Century Skills named in state and Common Core Standards. The system and supporting documentation are available under a Creative Commons license so that other school districts may adopt the Badge Systems used in this commitment.