STEAM Micro-Credentialing: Cultivating Educator Excellence
By Michael Beiersdorf and Dr. Marco Nava
How can we cultivate and validate educator expertise in STEAM?
As the number of schools identifying themselves as STEAM increases, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Human Resources Division developed and launched a research- and competency-based STEAM Micro-Credentialing Program in 2018. The program provides educators with sustained, collaborative, coherent, and targeted professional learning to cultivate, validate, and recognize their expertise in STEAM. This article will provide an overview of this successful program.
LAUSD Unified Human Resources Division
Human Resources (HR) ensures all students are taught by caring, knowledgeable teachers and school leaders. As outlined in the LAUSD Strategic Plan, HR invests in educator development to ensure students thrive. Current literature highlights some key strategies for supporting teacher growth:
- provide personalized learning opportunities where participants put what they learn directly into practice;
- create communities of practice for networked learning; and
- engage in an inquiry process where practitioners learn best practices and apply solutions to address teaching and learning needs.
Our Micro-Credentialing Program incorporates these strategies to maximize our investment in staff.
Overview of Micro-Credentialing and Digital Badges
Micro-Credentials are growing in popularity as a competency-based form of professional learning that allows educators to learn by doing, demonstrate expertise, and validate their new knowledge. This contrasts with more traditional forms of professional learning that are commonly seat-time based, require learning through absorption of information, and are often disconnected from an educator’s classroom. Earning a Micro-Credential is recognized through a digital badge, a visual representation of the accomplishment. Digital badges can be shared on various online platforms and contain a wealth of data that include:
- Alignment to standards.
- Criteria for earning the badge.
- A link to the evidence of expertise.
Dr. Wesson Keynote
Earning a Micro-Credential
Micro-Credentials issued through LAUSD are designed with a consistent structure and organization. They require 105 hours of hybrid professional learning, both online and in real-time. This professional learning consists of 30 hours of face-to-face instructor-led training, 45 hours of self-paced online training, and 30 hours of homework which requires participants to create a digital portfolio that contains five Evidence of Learning Artifacts (EOLAs) to demonstrate their mastery and application of learning from each course.
Educators engage in the blended, personalized professional learning of each Micro-Credential as a Community of Practice and complete three courses that include:
- Foundations and Access
- Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
- Leadership and Capstone
Highlights From The Work
The STEAM Micro-Credentialing Program is currently in its fifth year of implementation. Each year feedback has been incredibly positive. One teacher shared, “I am grateful for the academic rigor. The STEAM Micro-credentialing program provided current and relevant researched-based resources. In addition, the program carefully planned the material, lessons, and assignments to deliver growth in implementing a STEAM program at my school.” This year, 100% of participants have reported that the experience has significantly supported their understanding of STEAM, and 93% said the experience has extensively enhanced their professional growth. Our District has expanded to six Micro-Credentials, with nine offerings planned for the next school year and 12 by 2026.
Micro-Credential Planning Steps
We’ve been asked to consult with several districts, county offices, and institutes of higher education in this work and have shared our process. Each micro-credential involves the creation of a Professional Learning Plan that identifies the standards, knowledge, skills, and dispositions upon which the Micro-Credential is based as well as the content outline. From there, a schedule is created along with templates and guides for each EOLA. Next, we create a public-facing Overview and Learning Plan that communicate each micro-credential. Finally, we develop each program’s content. We have curated some helpful resources to learn about micro-credentials (here) and invite you to learn more at https://achieve.lausd.net/microcred.
Michael Beiersdorf Beiersdorf is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher who currently serves as the Administrative Coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District's Micro-Credentialing Program. In this role, he was responsible for developing and launching the District's inaugural Micro-Credential in STEAM during the 2018-2019 school year. The STEAM Micro-Credential is currently in its fifth year and its success has inspired the development and launch of additional Micro-Credentials that include: TK-12 English Learner; Reading Specialist: Early Literacy Foundations; Dual Language Education; Early Childhood Development; Equitable Grading and Instruction; and Anti-Racist Instruction.
Prior to leading the work of Micro-Credentialing on behalf of Los Angeles Unified's Human Resources Division, Michael served as a District science and STEAM coordinator, where he designed and delivered professional learning for teachers and administrators that supported the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and STEAM instruction throughout the District.
His work as a science and human resources administrator was proceeded by 17 years serving as a science teacher for middle school students in Los Angeles an high school students in Tanzania, East Africa, where he served as a Peace Corps Education Volunteer. During his time teaching, in addition to earning his National Board Certification in early adolescence science, Michael was honored to be selected as one of his District's Teachers of the Year. Michael is an equity-driven educator who believes passionately in the power of education to transform the lives of students and is honored to play a role in supporting the growth and development of highly effective teachers for his District's schools.
Dr. Marco Nava is the Administrator of Induction and Credentialing and works closely with the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD's) Chief Human Resources Officer to supervise professional development opportunities for Superintendents, Principal Supervisors, school leaders, and design programs that are aligned with the LAUSD School Leadership Framework and Principal Supervisor Leadership Framework. Dr. Nava oversees the Administrator and Teacher Induction/Credentialing Programs, Micro-Credentialing, and Certificated Contracts.