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Davis Journal

Competency-based microcredentials recognize teachers for what they’re already doing

Sep 15, 2023 09:45AM ● By Becky Ginos

FARMINGTON—Teachers are always learning. They take classes and participate in training for professional licensing credits but in Davis School District (DSD) teachers now have a different option based on what they already know called microcredentials. 

“The program has been going on since 2019,” said Daron Kennett, DSD Professional Learning Supervisor who started the program. “Utah is the first state in the country to do microcredentials. Europe has done it for years now but it’s not really a thing in the U.S.”

The State Board of Education has adopted the program, he said. “Every state is watching us. Now every state is doing something along those lines.”

Licensure through microcredentials is a cool, innovative system, said Kennett. “Traditionally teachers take a class at a university or an online course. They get credit for assignments, seat time and if they pass the tests. The credit is never tied to classroom practice.”

The problem is the district and principals offer professional learning but didn't have to implement change, he said. “Credit through microcredentials is not based on tests, it's based on evidence of what teachers do in the classroom, effectively using those tools as part of the classroom culture.”

It’s different training than in the past, Kennett said. “You can see a return on investment through real data to see which teachers use it. We can take that to train for a change in practice. It lets me leverage what’s going on in the school then those teachers can coach others.”

Each microcredential represents a tool or strategy, he said. “Teachers submit evidence that they implemented it. They can show a video of them teaching or the before and after results and how students benefited from it.”

Teams of reviewers from across the state look at the submissions and decide whether to award credit or ask them to resubmit, he said. “Reviewers are made up of teachers who have earned those microcredentials. Teachers can also get trained and become a reviewer.”

Teachers earn digital emblems, said Kennett. “It’s similar to badges in Scouts. It creates a digital resume where a potential employer can see that it was actually awarded based on how they teach in the classroom.”

It’s portable so teachers can take it with them, he said. “It shows demonstrated competency. It’s not just classes passed but also microcredentials earned. For their future career trajectory they can consciously select microcredential skills to be successful in that career.”

There are more than 300 microcredentials teachers can earn, said Kennett. “Before you had to pay for a course at a university. Now with microcredentials you learn exactly the same thing and each credential is $20.” 

A teacher at a rural school is more likely to earn microcredentials, he said. “About 24% more likely than urban teachers. They’re isolated and don’t have as much opportunity for professional training. That reinforces how valuable these can be for teachers. It’s applicable no matter what you teach. There’s something there for everyone.”

Any teacher interested in taking a microcredential can visit the USBE website and review its Microcredentials Catalog.

“Effective teachers are lifelong learners and teachers are self-directed learners,” Kennett said. “Teachers do not sit back and wait for professional development to learn what they need to know. They are motivated to meet the needs of their students. That is professional learning.”