Innovative Micro-credentialing Initiatives Across The Nation: Three District Case Studies to Consider – Digital Promise

Innovative Micro-credentialing Initiatives Across The Nation: Three District Case Studies to Consider

February 16, 2023 | By

Since launching our first micro-credential policy map update in 2020, district implementation of micro-credential programs have tremendously evolved across the country. Through our latest update of the micro-credential policy map in 2022, we have learned more about the innovative strategies districts are using to promote community, inclusion, and professional development among educators, and widely, school staff. These case studies are not meant to serve as exhaustive, finite ways in which your district should use micro-credentials, rather they are examples to consider when developing a micro-credential initiative for your school system.

Case Study 1: Rapides Parish School District, Louisiana

Granted a Models of Excellence Award from the Louisiana Department of Education for implementing the Believe to Achieve educational priorities for the implementation of the Pre-Educator Pathway, Rapides Parish School District has developed an innovative approach to its design. The pathway, which is two years long and begins during students’ junior year of high school, supports high school students in learning and attaining some of the skills required for teaching prior to committing to an education major in higher education institutions. They have partnered with Louisiana State University of Alexandria to offer dual enrollment courses for both Multicultural Learning Communities and Foundations of Education courses.

Through the program, students are able to replicate college methods courses by going into classrooms for observations, teaching lessons, and creating lesson plans. At the end of the program, students can receive up to six college credit hours. The district leverages Digital Promise’s Anti-bias Instruction and Classroom Culture micro-credential submissions as portfolios displaying what they have learned through the year and they serve as final assessments for their coursework. Currently, Rapides Parish is in year two of this program rollout and are in conversations with higher education partners to support students in earning credit through completion of the micro-credentials in lieu of an elective or major course outlined in their curriculum for the education major.

Take-Away: Identify micro-credentials that support organizational goals and create a support system for staff to earn micro-credentials successfully.

Case Study 2: Iredell-Statesville School District, North Carolina

Iredell-Statesville School District has been utilizing Digital Promise’s Learner Variability micro-credentials since 2018 and was the first to pilot the Learner Variability micro-credentials. Teachers have been leveraging the micro-credentials to better support the unique strengths and needs of their diverse learners. After being awarded funding, in partnership with Digital Promise, they developed a financial incentive for educators to complete the micro-credentials—also counting them as continuing education units (CEUs) locally. The Learner Variability Navigator, along with the micro-credentials, helped to shift teachers’ thinking about selecting strategies that play on students’ strengths. Each teacher was able to choose an area that was relevant to the needs of their students and the district networked groups of teachers to come together to share practices.

It’s easy to fall into a deficit mindset when problem solving instructional solutions for students through an MTSS model. Our work with the Learner Variability Navigator and micro-credentials helped us to target more impactful strategies for working with our students as we considered both strengths and areas for growth.
Kim Rector, Director of Curriculum Support & MTSS at Iredell-Statesville Schools
With the implementation of their learnings through the micro-credential coursework, students felt that their teachers were trying to understand them better by listening and learning from students’ strengths, thereby strengthening student-teacher relationships. The micro-credentials improved not only teachers’ teaching practices but also their understanding of the whole learner.

Take-Away: Consider how micro-credentials can uniquely support both students and teachers by creating pathways that enable teachers to develop learning environments that leverage the strengths of learners.

Case Study 3: Jefferson County Schools, West Virginia

Jefferson County Schools (JCS) has leveraged Digital Promise’s platform to develop a unique and inclusive micro-credentialing program. Created by and for approximately 1,500 employees, the JCS micro-credentials have an entry point for all staff, including, but not limited to: bus drivers, secretaries, counselors, cooks, custodians, instructional aides, teachers, principals, and central office administrators. Every full-time employee can complete up to six micro-credentials per year, with a $500 payout after each successful micro-credential completion, earning up to $3,000.

Cross-functional teams selected topics for each micro-credential that reflects the culture and mission of JCS. For example, Understanding Students Facing Challenges invites staff to grasp and understand research and resources about barriers students face that can impact the learning environment such as food insecurity, homelessness, and discrimination based on race, gender, language, ableism, and/or socioeconomic status. Another micro-credential topic, Responding to Cultural Differences in Schools, aimed to equip staff with cultural competency tools they can use to support students. These tools give staff members the opportunity to reflect on their own values, beliefs, and norms and how their perspective and experience impact students and their learning.

The robust program iteratively adjusts on a quarterly basis based on feedback shared from staff. Staff members may also attend monthly help sessions designed for anyone who may need extra assistance navigating the Digital Promise platform or completing the submission of a micro-credential. JCS staff hired micro-credential assessors to review their peers’ submissions and provide building-wide support for an assigned location. Assessors earn a $2,000 stipend and are eligible to complete the coursework for the additional financial incentives. JCS works to honor and reward all of their staff through this innovative program, cultivating community through shared experiences and understanding.

Take-Away: Create an inclusive micro-credential ecosystem with incentives to increase adoption, community awareness, and participation.

Micro-credentials can be effectively incorporated in varied, meaningful ways, including professional development and advancement efforts, by focusing on specific context and community. To highlight your district’s implementation of Digital Promise micro-credentials, please contact us. If you are interested in learning more about micro-credentials, check out our current offerings on the Micro-credential Platform or visit our website to learn more about our services.

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