Com·pe·ten·cy : An Ability or Skill
Competency-based education focuses on students mastering a specific skill or piece of knowledge. When students can demonstrate they’ve mastered the task at hand, when they can prove they’re competent in it, they progress to the next level, concept, or content area.
School districts from Alaska to New Hampshire are embracing competency-based education. But how teachers and district leaders interpret and implement the practice varies – as it should. Education, after all, is not a one-sized-fits-all endeavour.
At its core, competency-based education…
- Focuses on student growth.
- Gives students ownership of their learning.
- Personalizes learning to meets students’ social, emotional, and academic needs.
- Equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary for college, and for a lifetime.
Digital Promise continuously explores aspects and anecdotes of competency-based education. We research examples of competency-based education in action, bring together experts and practitioners working to amplify the practice, and write about what we hear and see along the way.
In spring 2014, the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools hosted a summit in Washington, D.C., featuring school district leaders, policy experts, and teachers working to personalize education in meaningful ways. Attendees shared their definitions of competency-based education, heard from educators applying these principles on the ground, and developed action plans to pursue competency-based education models individually, with each other, and through Digital Promise.
Competency-based education is not a new concept, but it is one that is finally gaining traction in school districts from Alaska to New Hampshire and points in between. Teachers who use the approach in their classrooms are quick to point out that empowering students to move at their own pace increases student engagement and performance. There are measurable outcomes to support this.
District leaders and teachers from the League of Innovative Schools joined American Youth Policy Forum on a tour of the Granite State in November to see competency-based education in action and learn from districts immersed in the work.
On Nov. 16-18, a small group of League superintendents, teachers, and district leaders visited three school districts in New Hampshire, a leader in competency-based education. This opportunity was made possible thanks to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and support from American Youth Policy Forum, which organized the event.
Competency-based education resources are plentiful. But, as is often the case, can be scattered across the broad expanse that is the Internet. Digital Promise worked with members of the League of Innovative Schools and other thought leaders in the area to cull some of the top tools and resources out there.
- Competency Works
- The Past and Promise: Today’s CBE Movement – Students at the Center
- The Shift from Cohort to Competency – Digital Learning Now
- A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change
- Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education
- Cracking the Code, Synchronizing Policy and Practice to Support Performance Based Learning
- State Strategies for Awarding Credit to Support Student Learning
- Roadmap for Competency Based System
- Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education
- The Learning Edge: Supporting Student Success in a Competency-Based Learning Environment
- So You Think You Want to Innovate – 2Revolutions, The Learning Accelerator
- Which Pilot Do You Want Flying Your Plane? – Brian Stack, Sanborn Regional High School
- Case study: Kennebec Intra-District Schools (RSU 2), Maine
- Fulton County Schools: A Big District Approach to Competency Education
- Blending Toward Competency: Early Patterns of Blended Learning and Competency-based Education in New Hampshire – Clayton Christensen Institute
This list is far from exhaustive. We’re counting on you to share the best competency-based education resources you come across.
Share CBE resources in the comments section below.