Elevating Real-World Learning: Two Cities’ Efforts to Credential Real World Skills through Digital Badges
The Boston Beyond network is deeply invested in helping students develop the skills they need to thrive as adults. But how do we validate that learning? How do we ensure students receive credit for their extracurricular accomplishments and have a means of communicating their skillset to prospective employers and others?
We’ve stepped into the gap left by traditional assessments to pilot a new approach to crediting the skills students acquire in the hours beyond school. Our “skill badges” for middle and high schoolers are based on uniform measures of skill proficiency. Students carry the badges with them, certifying their accomplishments, as they advance along in their educational and career paths.
Badges are digital or physical icons signifying the achievement of a specific skill group. They are competency based—meaning, students earn them for successfully attaining a skills, rather than for completing a specific curriculum or certain number of program hours.
To earn a badge, students must achieve a preset score on our validated, research-based skills assessment, meet an 80% attendance threshold, and submit a portfolio documenting further evidence of their accomplishment. The badge then becomes part of a student’s online portfolio, which they can share on LinkedIn, their resume, and college and job applications.
We’ve developed badges across four skills thus far: communication, critical thinking, perseverance, and teamwork.