Educator Micro-credentials Policy Map Provides an Update of State and District Use of Micro-credentials – Digital Promise

Educator Micro-credentials Policy Map Provides an Update of State and District Use of Micro-credentials

October 14, 2021 | By and

Digital Promise first launched our Micro-credential Policy Map in January 2020 to share valuable information on how states and districts across the U.S. were engaging with micro-credentials. Since then, micro-credential interest, earning, and pathways have only increased. The unique and pressing needs of the ongoing global pandemic accelerated the adoption of education technology and innovations that could support urgent and evolving needs and provide on-demand and flexible learning. Micro-credentials supported teachers transitioning to digital learning, helped learners who were seeking ongoing professional learning during shelter-in-place, and aided districts looking to prioritize skills and competencies that meet the needs of their schools’ community.

Micro-credentials are a quickly shifting landscape. To capture the growth in the ecosystem and continue to provide valuable information to the field about the work, we spent the last quarter diving into shifts and changes in the landscape to update our policy map. Based on feedback and the evolving ecosystem, we made a key change to the filters used to engage with the map. The new filters include:

  • District-Level Incentives: Individual schools and/or districts have policies recognizing micro-credentials earned by educators.
  • State-Level Policy and/or Guidelines: Policies supporting micro-credentials are in place at a state-wide level through legislation or the state’s Department of Education. States without policies feature district implementation examples instead.
  • State-Level Exploration: The state or the state’s Department of Education has endorsed the use of micro-credentials or has facilitated a relationship between a third-party organization offering credentialing and other institutions (e.g., higher education) within the state. This may include piloting micro-credentials; creating a committee to evaluate the use; partnering with an organization to develop or distribute micro-credentials; or having a formal discussion on the functionality of it.
  • Institutes of Higher Education: Micro-credentials have a presence in higher education as part of the curriculum or are available to educators for credit.

Screengrab of the Micro-credential Policy Map

District-level initiatives we explored ranged from teachers being able to use micro-credentials for continuing education units (CEUS) to career pathways. Recently, a partnership between the Minnesota Services Cooperative and Bloomboard offered Saint Peter Public Schools an opportunity to pilot a micro-credentialing program with district-level incentives that has been received positively by educators thus far. Similarly, Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) has been working with 23 school districts in rural Appalachia in developing personalized micro-credentials for professional development, mitigating structural barriers (costs, resources, travel, and more) to professional learning opportunities that are often faced by rural educators. States are continuing to develop policies and guidelines to support districts looking to leverage micro-credentials for professional learning.

Since first publishing the map, we have also witnessed an increase in states exploring micro-credentials to determine how state education agencies can play a role in ensuring quality and providing guidance to districts. The Delaware Department of Education completed an early literacy micro-credential pilot earlier this summer and will pilot a second set of early literacy micro-credentials during the 2021-2022 school year. The Wyoming Department of Education has been building out and piloting micro-credentials that will eventually be part of a computer science pathway. Some states, such as North Carolina, have also created working groups to further explore micro-credentials that have already been implemented across districts and are actively working toward defining and supporting a framework for micro-credentialing. Coming alongside states and districts are institutes of higher education, such as the State University of New York system and Western Governors University, who continue to design more programs that use micro-credentials as on-ramps, check-ins for online courses, and MOOCs. In addition, some have begun exploring micro-credentials for stackable degree programs. As the field continues to evolve, we will continue to update this map periodically to reflect those changes.

Explore the updated Micro-credential Policy Map today and let us know what other stories of micro-credential engagement are taking place in your community!

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