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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RISE (Revolutionary Individualized Student Experience)

June 20, 2018 by

This is the third in a three-part series on Da Vinci Schools in California. Start the series here.

Da Vinci won a $10 million XQ ‘Super School’ grant to create RISE, a competency-based school for homeless students, foster youth, and other diverse learners in connection with a national competition to reimagine high school. It’s designed around four themes: care, connect, challenge, and create. (more…)

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What’s New in K-12 Competency-Based Education?

June 19, 2018 by


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How Do the Learning Sciences Drive Learning in Your School and District?

June 18, 2018 by

Two weeks ago, iNACOL/CompetencyWorks released the paper Levers and Logic Models. There are lots of interesting ideas throughout the paper thanks to an incredible group of people who shared their expertise. One of the most interesting processes was creating a set of principles based on the learning sciences that should guide school design, learning experiences, and instruction/assessment, as we were drawing from multiple domains of research. (See below.)

The more schools I visit, the more I believe that there isn’t one way of designing based upon the learning sciences. I think it is important to think about how to optimize across the different research findings. However, being clear about the pedagogical principles is critically important. In fact, before your district and school begins the journey toward creating a competency-based model, I think it is very much worth taking the time to create a shared set of pedagogical principles.

  • What are the pedagogical principles that guide your school? How do they relate to the research on learning?
  • What are the beliefs that guide traditional approach to education and how do they compare to the cornerstones of learning?

Cornerstones of the Learning Sciences


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How Are We Doing in Personalizing Learning?

June 14, 2018 by

If you have an airplane ride coming up, add A National Landscape Scan of Personalized Learning in K-12 Education in the United States to your reading list. Released by iNACOL in a collaboration with LEAP, CPRE and NORC at the University of Chicago, the report has fascinating insights into which aspects of personalized learning are taking hold and which aspects aren’t. And it provides fodder for reflection.

The power of this report is that it lifts up the experiences of teachers and students in schools that are moving toward personalized approaches. The study is based on a definition of personalization as defined by the LEAP framework, not tech-driven personalization. The findings reveal that schools are stronger in building capacity around learner-focused, in which teachers have developed relationships and processes to know their students, as compared to learner-led and learner-demonstrated.

The discussion on the findings is fascinating and triggered a stream of wonderings:

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Ten Distinguishing Features of Competency-Based Education

June 13, 2018 by

Many of you have told us that we needed a stronger explanation of competency-based education beyond the working definition developed in 2011 to help create a shared understanding. In the paper Levers and Logic Models, we introduce ten distinguishing features of competency-based education from traditional systems based on the incredible insights from the people participating in the Technical Advisory Group on defining competency-based education (you are all recognized in the paper – we are forever grateful for your generosity of time and expertise).

From talking to district and school leaders, I think it is helpful to think about the flaws of the traditional system, which produce variability and reproduce inequity, as well as how the distinguishing features work together to create a system that motivates students and adults and also produces consistency and greater equity.

Please feel free to use the distinguishing features and the icons in your own communities. Just give credit based on Creative Commons attribution. These ten features can be easily converted into a self-assessment tool for you to use to use with your colleagues in your district and schools.

Ten Distinguishing Features of Competency-Based Education

Purpose and Culture

1. Student success outcomes are designed around preparation for college, career and lifelong learning. Traditional systems narrowly prioritize and measure academic skills, often at the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Competency-based systems emphasize ensuring that students can apply academic knowledge and skills to new contexts and become adept problem-solvers and independent learners. Thus, competency-based districts and schools align around academic knowledge, transferable skills and the ability of students to become lifelong learners. Culture, pedagogy, and structures are designed to develop student agency, build foundational academic knowledge and engage students in deeper learning that provide opportunities to engage in real-world problems.


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Dive into the Competency-Based Education Logic Model

June 12, 2018 by

Join us on June 19 2-3 ET for a discussion on Levers and logic models: A framework to guide research and design of high-quality competency-based education systems. Bring your questions. It will help if you have a printed copy as we will be highlighting some sections by page number so we can focus conversation on the logic models. Register here.

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5 Trends for Seeding CBE Growth


This post originally appeared at the Christensen Institute on May 8, 2018.

As more and more school systems across the country explore competency-based education (CBE), we need to be attentive to the processes that will actually allow such innovations to thrive. (more…)

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Conversations about Learning at Da Vinci

June 11, 2018 by

This is the second in a three-part series on Da Vinci Schools in California. Start the series here.

“Fail forward, fail fast.” That seems to be the mantra of Matthew Wunder, co-founder of Da Vinci Schools, about designing and running schools. This phrase popped up several times in our morning together, “Failure is a chance to reflect, a chance to get to know students better, a chance to improve a project or instruction.” (more…)

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