As most know, Competency-Based Education (CBE) is being pushed into schools for all students, including those who have special needs.
Before I go on, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at 15-year-olds and their computer use in 31 nations and regions. They found that reading and math scores on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) were lower for students who used computers more, rather than those who used technology less in school (OECD, 2015). How computers are used in the classroom matters.
“Those that use the Internet every day do the worst,” said Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills…
“That’s pretty sobering for us,” said Schleicher in a press briefing. “We all hope that integrating more and more technology is going to help us enhance learning environments, make learning more interactive, introduce more experiential learning, and give students access to more advanced knowledge. But it doesn’t seem to be working like this.”
Schleicher openly worried that if students end up “cutting and pasting information from Google” into worksheets with “prefabricated” questions, “then they’re not going to learn a lot.”
The report also states…it has been noticeable that data on students who have difficulties in accessing the curriculum are more difficult to come by than for the rest of the student population.
One U.K. study indicates there are online barriers for students with dyslexia in an e-learning environment (Woodfine, Nunes, & Wright, 2008).
Online instruction has a place in the classroom. But putting students with disabilities online for the bulk of their schooling does not make sense. That seems to be the intent of CBE.
Indications are that CBE leaves something to be desired for students no matter what proponents tell us. Shouldn’t that give the disruption enthusiasts pause?
Here are some specific concerns when it comes to using Competency-Based Education with students who have disabilities.
- Are parents informed as to the kind of online instruction that will be used with their student? Are the objectives of the program clear?
- How will CBE help a child with disabilities do better at living and relating to others in the real world—and at home? How good are the online vocational programs?
- How will CBE enrich a student’s learning experience more than regular class instruction?
- How does CBE differ from using paper drill exercises?
- Is technology used as a substitute teacher—to save money? Is it to make money for the tech companies?
- Does the teacher place the student on the computer for convenience—like in a large class?
- What kind of support services do students get if they have problems learning the online material?
- What happens if the computer system breaks down? What is the alternative plan?
- If students have difficulty with pacing how are they assisted?
- What about students with attention difficulties or students who have difficulty with self-regulation?
- How will students with motor problems be assisted?
- If students have visual problems how will they do the work? How will students with dyslexia get assistance?
- When do students get real interaction with their peers?
- How is CBE considered the least restrictive environment?
- How is it differentiation if students must arrive at the same standards in the end?
- How will students with disabilities be compared to classmates without disabilities—inclusion? Or, if students with disabilities are working on different skills than the rest of the class, how is that different from self-contained classes?
- How much time during the day will children sit in front of computers? What is the impact on a child’s health sitting for screen time for such a long time?
- What specific independent research studies indicate online instruction is better for students with disabilities?
- How will cheating be addressed? What will happen if the student fails to master the skill?
- How will CBE affect a student’s ability to graduate?
- How will a child’s privacy be protected?
Woodfine, B.P., Nunes, M. Baptista, D.J. Wright. “Text-based Synchronous E-learning and dyslexia: Not Necessarily the Perfect Match. Computers & Education, 50 (3) April 2008.