CompetencyWorks is an online resource dedicated to providing information and knowledge about competency education in the K-12 education system. Drawing on lessons learned by innovators and early adopters, CompetencyWorks shares original research, knowledge and a variety of perspectives through an informative blog with practitioner knowledge, policy advancements, papers on emerging issues and a wiki with resources curated from across the field. CompetencyWorks also offers a blog on competency education in higher education so that the sectors can learn from each other and begin to align systems across K-12, higher education and the workplace.

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Want to Learn about the Every Student Succeeds Act?

December 10, 2015 by

Screenshot 2015-12-10 09.34.48On December 16, 2015, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST iNACOL will hold a webinar on The Every Student Succeeds Act—How Will the New Federal K-12 Education Law Support Personalized Learning? You’ll want to listen in to hear about the new opportunities for creating systems of assessments that are designed around learning! Register here. (more…)

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The Competency-Based School Librarian


LibraryThis post originally appeared at Pam Harland’s blog on November 26, 2015.

I’ve been the school librarian at Sanborn Regional High School in New Hampshire for five years. The Sanborn School District is a leader in competency-based education (CBE). The goal of CBE is to allow students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. This type of teaching and learning leads to better student engagement because the content is relevant and more tailored to their unique needs. (Read more about CBE at Sanborn via Brian Stack’s blog posts on (more…)

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Deer Island-Stonington High School: Breathing Life into the Standards

December 9, 2015 by

Image from the DISHS Website

This post is part of the series Road Trip to Maine. This is the second of a three-part look at Deer Isle-Stonington High School. Start with the first post on Turning Around the Culture.

West led the high school in a process that began to reorganize the school around four themes: multiple pathways, personalization, proficiency-based learning, and community-based education. He explained, “We didn’t want to be a diploma factory to just pass out diplomas. We wanted kids to be prepared. The biggest obstacle was lack of student engagement. Kids often go through the motion of doing what is expected but they aren’t invested in their own learning. If we could engage students, they would be more open to meeting the higher academic expectations.” (more…)

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How My Understanding of Competency-Based Education Has Changed Over the Years

December 8, 2015 by

StairsNext week, I am excited to be sharing the work that my team and I have done in New Hampshire on competency-based education with a group of South Carolina educators as part of the Transform SC institute on Meeting the Needs of Every Student With Competency Based Progression. My preparation for this institute has been an opportunity for me to reflect on what has now been a six-year journey with competency education with Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston, NH. This past week, our school district was recognized for the second year in a row as a “leader in competency education” by Tom Vander Ark’s organization Getting Smart, noting that Sanborn was one of 30 School Districts Worth Visiting in 2015. (more…)

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Deer Isle-Stonington High School: Turning Around the Culture

December 7, 2015 by

Image fom the DISHS Website

This post is part of the series Road Trip to Maine. This is the first of a three-part look at Deer Isle-Stonington High School. (You can also learn about Biddeford School DistrictCasco Bay High School, and Noble High School.)

“We are a small school, but accomplishing big things is not impossible” – Todd West

I knew something was a bit different about Deer-Isle Stonington High School (DISHS) when I first contacted Todd West, Principal, about the dates of a possible site visit and he replied with, “Of course. How about Hurricane Island for the Eastern Maine Skippers Program or Bowdoin College for our arts pathway?” At first I was hesitant…do a site visit without visiting the school? Then I realized it was an all-around brilliant idea. (more…)

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Learner-Centered Tip of the Week: Homework Tips for Parents

December 4, 2015 by

Pencil ShavingsThis post originally appeared on Courtney Belolan’s website on October 26, 2015. Belolan is the instructional coach for RSU2 in Maine.

This week… a special request: specifics on appropriate parental involvement in homework.

In The Art and Science of Teaching, Marzano lays out some action steps around using homework as a strategy for helping students to practice and deepen knowledge. One of the listed strategies is to give homework that involves participation from the home. This can be a tricky. (more…)

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Milestones and Benchmarks On the Way to a Proficiency-Based System

December 3, 2015 by

RSU2On numerous occasions, I have been asked, “On your journey to a proficiency-based system, what were the milestones and benchmarks that were critical to a successful transition?” In taking the time to reflect over the past few years, there are certainly points along the way that have proven to be vital as we’ve moved forward toward a solid proficiency-based learning system. (more…)

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What I’m Learning About Student Agency

December 2, 2015 by

for agency postOn Thursday, December 3 at 7 pm ET the topic of the #NGLCchat series will be on student agency. Guests include Andrew K. Miller, who serves on the National Faculty for the Buck Institute and ASCD; Principal Michele Savage and teacher Casey Montigney from Shue-Medill Middle School in Newark, DE; and Dave Lash and Dr. Grace Belfiore, developers of the MyWays project.

In preparation for the discussion, I’ve pulled a number of blogs together that touch on student agency. These include blogs written on the topic, how schools are structuring and supporting students to have agency, classroom practices, and my personal reflections as I learn more about it. (more…)

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Noble High School: Creating Timely, Differentiated Supports


NobleThis post is part of the series Road Trip to Maine. You can also learn about Biddeford School District and Casco Bay High School.

If we gave out awards at CompetencyWorks, I’d give Noble High School an award for the fourth element of the CompetencyWorks definition of competency education: Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs. (more…)

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