Competency-Based Education

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The Art and Sciences of Designing Competencies paper discusses how innovators in competency education develop competencies. Often this is referred to as a tuning process or re-engineering process – mapping from what we want students to know and be able to do all the way backwards to the choices for curricular tasks and assessments.

This paper provides insights into the orientation and processes that innovators use in designing competencies. Download your version of this report now and explore the reengineering process of developing competencies.

Access: The Art and Science of Designing Competencies 

(formerly iNACOL) We Are Rethinking What Is Possible in K-12 Education - Our Theory of Action advances innovation and continuous improvement across K-12 education. We work with practitioners and policymakers to enable approaches that ensure all students develop mastery of the highest competencies to reach their full potential. We conduct research to highlight best practices for education innovations and personalized learning.

Access: Aurora Institute

A program to support Iowa districts interested in competency-based education.

Access: The Center 

This district in Westminster, CO uses standards-based approach, with students working on academic material matched to their developmental levels.

Access: Competency Approach Challenges Colorado District 

Offers access to multiple resources, including a WIKI for competency-based education.

Access: Competency Works  

This site by Enriching Students provides a collection of downloadable resources that will help you learn more about what competency-based education is, how you can implement it, and how it can help your students become more successful. Click on the title link to be taken to the website to download the resource.

Access:  Competency-Based Resources

Leaders and innovators in competency education convened at the 2011 Competency-Based Learning Summit to explore how state policy can loosen its regulatory handcuffs from educators attempting to move toward competency-based learning models. This paper is designed to answer the following 4 questions:

  • What is performance-based learning?
  • What are states doing to advance performance-based learning?
  • What type of policy framework can guide state leadership in advancing a performance-based education system?
  • What are the emerging issues in redesigning the education system around performance-based learning?

Access: Cracking the Code:  Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-Based Learning

The Education Commission of the States has provided an annotated bibliography of research on impact of competency-based education

Access:  Education Commission - State of Competency-Based Education

This white paper addresses the "why" and how" of shifting to personal digital learning.

Access: The Future of Learning:  Personalized, Adaptive, and Competency Based by Tom Vander Ark  

After five years of interviews and site visits with field leaders, this paper distills best practices from a handful of those converting to competency-based systems. Key highlights include strategies to engage, motivate, and teach all students to proficiency and mastery, shifts in instruction toward deeper learning and meaningful assessments for learning, and new models of distributed leadership and educator empowerment.

Chris Sturgis (2015)

Access:  Implementing Competency Education in K-12 Systems:  Insights from Local Leaders

Highlights the key issues from the proceedings at the March 2011 Competency-Based Learning Summit for advancing competency-based learning. A five-part working definition is introduced to drive innovations toward high quality educational experiences for students.

Access: It’s Not a Matter of Time

Describes barriers and opportunities within federal education policy frameworks and identifies how the federal government is in a unique position to catalyze and scale student-centered learning approaches.

Access: A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change

Delves into the fourth element of the definition of competency education: Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.

Access: The Learning Edge:  Supporting Student Success in a Competency-Based Learning Environment

The authors provide a window into the state-of-art strategies in New England and across the country. The report documents each school's experiences, highlighting the key components, benefits, and challenges of the work already completed - and left to do.

Access: Making Mastery Work - A Close-Up View of Competency Education 

by Karri Schneider and Tom Vander Ark. 

Access: Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning 

This document was written to help educate next generation learning.

Access: Progress and Proficiency:  Redesigning Grading for Competency Education

This reference guide from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation delves deep into the principles of student-centered learning, and explains how they can be implemented to ensure that all students are prepared to succeed in college and beyond.

Access: Putting Students at the Center

 This is a great resource for addressing the journey and passion of students in their learning.

Access: QED Foundation 

 Chris Sturgis of Competency Works shared this report in October, 2016.

Access: Reaching the Tipping Point:  Insights on Advancing Competency Education in New England

Sean Cavanagh shares how a growing numbers of states are starting to award academic credit based on what students know - not how much time they spend learning it.

Access: States Loosening Seat Time Requirements

 by Bill Zima

Access: A Tide of Understanding 

This white paper by Don Soifer of the Lexington Institute shares an analysis of several factors which may prove pivotal in the transformation to personalized learning.

Access: Transforming Education through Digital and Blended Learning

An introduction to competency-based pathways, a necessary condition to realizing the potential of next generation learning.

Access: When Success Is the Only Option:  Designing Competency-based Pathways for Next Generation Learning

This page was last updated: 11/15/23