Many states have eliminated the “extra pay for master’s degrees” provision in educator licensure and compensations systems in recent years.  When this occurs, individuals often are at a disadvantage to show knowledge and skills they may have acquired through advanced credentials.  School systems are at a disadvantage to differentiate educators on the basis of specialized knowledge or skills.  With a trend toward demonstration of mastery as evidence of knowledge and a move away from seat time only, a number of districts and states have begun to recognize alternate methods of certifications for specialized knowledge.  The rise in micro-credentials, sometimes called badging, is an indication of the increasing popularity in education circles.
The state of North Carolina has begun a pilot in  micro-credentialing area.  Our school district, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, is part of Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools, which is piloting micro-credentials in some school districts as well.  Work from both the state and League informed our CMS team as we developed a micro-credentialing program.  CMS began awarding micro-credentials in summer 2015.  Our goal is to recognize educators who complete instructional technology training.  Candidates also receive continuing education units for purposes of educator license renewal.
Requirements for a CMS Technology Leader I badge include completion of 6 hours of face training and a demonstration of mastery. Teachers are allowed several weeks for continued self-paced learning and practice in the classroom prior to the submission of assignments to demonstrate their understanding. Demonstrations such as creating and delivering a presentation for their students about Digital Citizenship, participating in a peer group discussion or short quizzes are examples of demonstrations of mastery. Topics in Tech Leader I include such areas as digital citizenship,  tech skills to help navigate federal regulations (FERPA and CIPA), core Google Apps for Education (G-suite) utilization and navigation of Canvas learning management system.  Advanced knowledge can be demonstrated to earn a Tech Leader II badge by completing additional training plus evidence of knowledge and skills in topics around infusing technology into learning experiences.  Participants are expected to explore and demonstrate use of TPACK, SAMR, and Blending Learning to create technology infused experiences for their learners and use the Canvas learning management system at a higher level.  Tech Leader III badge is reserved for educators who increase their instructional design skills.  Participants complete Google Apps for Education certification and hone their skills with the Canvas learning management system.   CMS Personalized Learning team developed and piloted a micro-credential program spring 2017.  Based on feedback from focus groups, a full badging system will be launched with all 61 personalized learning schools in summer 2017. 
Benefits of micro-credentialing include the ability of educators to have maximum flexibility, as they pursue part of the training virtually, on their own time.  Educators can personalize their learning experience to fit their individual growth needs.  A 21st c skills assessment in Atomic Learning, based on ISTE standards, is used to help teachers identify skill gaps for setting personal growth goals.  School districts can use micro-credentialing to incentivize teachers to deepen knowledge in areas that student achievement data indicate need growth.  The portability of the micro-credentials is a tremendous benefit for an ever-increasingly transient nature of young professionals.  Being able to use resources such as Creative Commons keeps costs of beginning a badging program down while yielding tremendous benefit in evidence of learning.
Submitted by
Dr. Valerie Truesdale
Chief Technology, Personalization and Engagement Officer Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Visit us at Visit us at