Credit flexibility provides an avenue for 'gifted' or 'accelerated' students to access advanced coursework when they are ready for it, and helps to alleviate potential issues such as demotivation or boredom while they wait for their peers to 'catch up'.
Schools worldwide are increasingly moving towards competency-based assessment as their educational governing bodies make fundamental changes to the way academic credit is awarded. With this change in assessment comes increasing flexibility in the method and timing of assessment.
In the United States, Oregon continues to be leading the implementation of credit flexibility and is encouraging districts to award academic credit based on mastery rather than seat time. Since 2002, the state policies allow districts to award credit based on proficiency.1 The Ohio State Board of Education has also adopted a plan to empower “students to earn units of high school credit based on a demonstration of subject area competency, instead of or in combination with completing hours of classroom instruction.”2
New Zealand is well on the way to improving its assessment strategy, and perhaps one day soon will realise Claire Amos' idea of a national assessment framework that:
...was not just same old subjects ‘anytime, anywhere’ but rather key competencies demonstrated ‘anytime, anywhere, anyhow’.3
By harnessing the opportunity digital technologies provide in gathering assessment data over a period of time and in the creation of portfolios of learning, students will be able to achieve credit for competency when they meet the criteria, without having to wait to sit an examination or achieve the prescribed age.
We are excited by these future possibilities, and by NZQA’s key goal of having ‘NCEA examinations online, where appropriate, by 2020’ 4, as these will enable gifted or accelerated students early access to coursework and examinations.
1 Frost, D. (2016). Moving from Seat-Time to Competency-Based Credits in State Policy: Ensuring All Students Develop Mastery. Competency Works. Retrieved from https://www.competencyworks.org/understanding-competency-education/moving-from-seat-time-to-competency-based-credits-in-state-policy-ensuring-all-students-develop-mastery/
2 Hanover Research. (2012, October). Best Practices in Personalized Learning Environments (Grades 4-9). Washington, DC: Author. p.20
3 Amos, C. (2014). The Biggest Challenge Facing Education. Education Review - Sector Voices. New Zealand Media & Entertainment. Retrieved from https://www.educationreview.co.nz/news/2014/sector-voices-the-biggest-challenge-facing-education/ p.29
4 NZQA Statement of Intent 2016/7 - 2019/20 https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/about-us/publications/strategic-documents/soi-1617-1920/assessment/