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Briefing Papers

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

by Worthen and Pace, February 2014

Providing federal policymakers with a comprehensive vision for supporting state and local efforts to implement student-centered learning, A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change 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.

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Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education

by Chris Sturgis, January 2014

Progress and Proficiency was written to help education leaders think through how to design grading policies that communicate academic performance to students and parents. As more schools and districts begin to develop competency-based pathways that allow students to progress based on demonstrated mastery of content knowledge and skills rather than just time spent in a classroom, it is imperative that they rethink their grading systems around competency. More resources on competency-based grading can be found on the Competency-Based Pathways Wiki.

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Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education

by Patrick and Sturgis, February 2013

An opportunity for state leaders to reflect upon the efforts of contemporaries around the country, Necessary for Success shares insights into re-engineering the policy and practices of our K-12 systems; introduces the main concepts behind competency-based learning; studies important initial steps taken by states in introducing this emerging model; and considers creating a culture of competency within state agencies. You can find more resources on the Competency-Based Pathways Wiki.

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Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education

by Liz Glowa, February 2013

Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education analyzes and examines components and elements of effective competency-based information systems. Based on interviews and research, the ideas in Re-Engineering Information Technology build upon the lessons learned in analyzing information systems developed by competency education innovators, best practices of systemic approaches to information management, and emerging opportunities. The paper is designed for readers to find those issues that are of most interest to them in their role and be used to catalyze strategies, support new competency-based instructional models, and inform decision making for continuous improvement. You can find more resources on the Competency-Based Pathways Wiki.

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

by Shubilla and Sturgis, December 2012

The Learning Edge: Supporting Student Success in a Competency-Based Learning Environment delves into the fourth element of the definition of competency education: Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs. Understanding how to structure supports is important because learning in a competency-based environment means that students and adults are often on the edge of their comfort zone and competence — the learning edge. In this paper you will learn how innovators are designing school culture, embedding supports and organizing resources to ensure students are progressing and on pace. You can find more resources on the Competency-Based Pathways Wiki.

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The Art and Science of Designing Competencies

by Chris Sturgis, August 2012

The first in a series of Issue Briefs, The Art and Science of Designing Competencies brings together insights from a number of leading practitioners from around the country. Listen to the voices of innovators as they share their insights and lessons learned on how to build powerful competencies, engage teachers, and integrate lifelong learning competencies. Be sure to check out the companion resources on the Competency-Based Pathways Wiki.

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It’s Not a Matter of Time: Highlights from the 2011 Competency-Based Summit

by Sturgis, Patrick and Pittenger, July 2011

The It’s Not a Matter of Time paper 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.

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

by Patrick and Sturgis, July 2011

The report sets a policy framework for advancing performance-based learning and builds on recommendations made during the 2011 Competency-Based Learning Summit convened by iNACOL and CCSSO. The report recommends that states begin to transform policies from “rigid compliance” to “enabling policies,” by offering seat-time waivers or “credit flex” policies that allow for the flexibility to offer competency-based learning in K-12. The policy development is multi-stage — building towards a “comprehensive policy redesign” that would require school districts to offer competency-based credits; provide proper training and information systems; establish quality-control; and align higher education with K-12 competency-based efforts.

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Clearing the Path: Creating Innovation Space for Serving Over-age, Under-credited Students in Competency-based Pathways

by Sturgis, Rath, Weisstein and Patrick, December 2010

This paper provides guidance on creating competency-based approaches for over-age, under-credited students that have fallen off the track toward graduation. Drawing on a wide range of expertise, this paper explores how states can create space for innovation, including design principles, minimum policy conditions and options for moving forward.

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

by Sturgis and Patrick, November 2010

This paper is an introduction to competency-based pathways, a necessary condition to realizing the potential of next generation learning. The most important finding from this investigation is that competency-based pathways are a re-engineering of our education system around learning — a re-engineering designed for success in which failure is no longer an option. This paper is the first of the series. The following papers produced in 2011 (above) provide a much more detailed exploration into policy and practice for competency-based learning.

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