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.

a project of

inacol logo

Nov 7 Webinar on Meeting Students Where They Are

October 22, 2018 by

CompetencyWorks Webinar Series: Meeting Students Where They Are, November 7 from 3-4 ET. Join Chris Sturgis and Antonia Rudenstine and Sydney Schaef from reDesign to talk about how you can organize your school develop a student-centered approach. Register here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

CBE Problems of Practice: Granularity on Advance Upon Mastery is Too Small


This is the fifth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendance, pace, and individualized learning.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

5. Demanding that students demonstrate achievement on every small standard. We’ve heard of situations in which schools are holding students back from more advanced studies due to not learning very small and inconsequential skills or knowledge. Parents are legitimately asking about the value of some learning standards that were designed with coverage in mind, but are now being used for student level accountability in a competency-based system. In traditional schools we primarily looked for memorization and comprehension based on either state standards or what the teacher covered in lecture or textbooks. In competency-based schools we look for something else. We want students to be able to use content knowlege as they solve problems. We want them to develop a higher set of skills and be able to fully engage in the key concepts and facts within each domain.  You could think of this as the difference between standards-based and competency-based.

If students are having a difficult time learning either knowledge or skills, it might be the right thing to let them work longer on it and not push them forward to the next set of learning targets. However, it might also be the right thing to let them advance while returning to or creating opportunities to continue to strengthen those areas that they haven’t mastered. This requires teacher judgment about what will be best for students based on a number of criteria.

The problem of holding students back based on bite-size standards seems to happen when aspects of competency-based education are implemented in a bureaucratic fashion rather than taking the step back to think about what we want students to learn and do, how to best help them to learn it, and then asking how we will be confident that they really learned it. It’s important to keep returning to what the science of learning tells us — some learning occurs over time and requires students returning to it repeatedly. Thus, advance upon mastery isn’t applied to every standard. Instead, it’s a question of how do we make sure students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. (more…)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The MTC Network: Reinventing How Students Prepare for College, Career, and Life

October 21, 2018 by

How do we prepare students for future careers we can’t even begin to imagine? This is a question we hear a lot in education today. Teachers most commonly tell us that they are seeking to educate students who think creatively and critically, take agency in their own learning, and solve problems by often challenging assumptions. They want to prepare them for our world of accelerating change. But, too often, they are confronted with the reality that the traditional transcript, established during the Industrial Age, limits their ability to best serve and represent the students in their care. Although educators serve diverse student populations—from rural to urban communities, from private to public schools—they find more similarities than differences in what effective teaching and learning look like.

Schools who join the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC) network are thinking about how they can move their instructional model toward competency or mastery. The MTC network is co-designing a tool, a digital transcript, to better reflect the unique skills, strengths, and interests of all students. We believe that, by changing the transcript, we can ultimately reinvent how students prepare for college, career, and life.

Supporting Change

Through the collective strength and wisdom of the MTC network, we are well-poised to support the change our member schools are eager to bring to their students. Our network is now 225 member schools strong—a diverse mix of independent, public, and international schools—and we continue to receive inquiries and add new members each week. Generous support from the E.E. Ford Foundation, our founding schools, and membership growth continue to provide us with a solid foundation to build upon for the future. As we remain focused on strengthening our network, we are also at work designing the Mastery Transcript and bringing it to life. Recently we provided a preview of our first concept model of the Mastery Transcript prototype at the Big Picture Learning Conference and received both positive and constructive feedback from several of our member schools and others in attendance. With a plan to have our new transcript ready for summer 2019, we are excited to see early adopters in action during the 2019–2020 academic year. If we do our work well, the Mastery Transcript will support the innovation teachers and students bring to classrooms, helping to cultivate the creativity already happening in schools and opening up new opportunities. Read on for more about how our network is collaborating, across four priority areas, to support change. 

The prototype landing page allows students to highlight select projects and work samples.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Competency Education Quality Principle #1: Purpose-Driven

October 19, 2018 by

This is the second article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #1 Purpose-Driven on page 31. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

What does it mean to be purpose-driven?

For those who use design thinking, it means clarifying the point from which you backward plan. We have to know where we want to get in order to design the school and learning experiences that will get you there. (more…)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Competency Education at iNACOL18

October 18, 2018 by

Are you heading to Nashville? Here is a sampling of sessions on competency-based education (and there are definitely a lot of other great ones to choose from!). If you aren’t going, this can give you a sense of how the field is moving along, show you the knowledge that is being developed, and highlight possible people for you to contact along the way if you need a thought partner. I’ve added some links to sessions led by people with experience making the transition in schools and districts – you’ll get even more out of the sessions if you do some pre-reads about their districts. (FYI – some of the great CBE sessions are tagged as personalized learning.)

Where Not to Start When Implementing Personalized Competency-Based Education: Learning from Our Mistakes and Understanding the Steps for Success with Doug Finn, Marzano Research Lab

Sometimes you wish there was a reset button on implementing personalized, competency-based education (PCBE). Implementation of PCBE follows a certain framework, which we will review, but the specific details for each school or district can be extremely unique.

Performance-Based Education in the Last Frontier: Chugach School District’s Journey in Meeting the Needs of All Students with Mike Hanley and Deborah Treece from Chugach School District

The transformation of an educational system from one of the lowest performing in the state, to exceeding state results in spite of the challenges of poverty, transportation, and extreme geographic locations: Chugach School District’s Performance-Based Education Model began in 1994 to support student success. From PK-12 one-building sites, to meeting the needs of homeschool students and families throughout Alaska, Chugach School District’s continuous improvement cycle incorporates the ongoing journey of student ownership and success in life. (more…)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

When Equity and Student-Centered Learning Go Hand in Hand


I spent two days at the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative meeting last week. Kudos to the Student at the Center team for integrating equity and student-centered learning so deeply that they were one and the same. I’ll share three highlights of the meeting:

First, Eric Toshalis opened up the meeting with an acknowledgement that the meeting was taking place on lands that were originally those of Native Americans and that we were there without permission. After my trip to Aotearoa New Zealand, I have become a firm believer that we can build much stronger cultures of inclusivity if we are in a process of reconciliation and healing. I hold the greatest respect for Eric and JFF in launching the meeting in this way. (For those of you who are interested, this resource on how to honor native land can be helpful.) (more…)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Decade On: Lindsay Unified’s Personalized Learning Journey

October 17, 2018 by

A young reader at Lindsay Unified’s Kennedy Elementary.

This post originally appeared at Education Week’s Next Gen Learning in Action blog on September 21, 2018. All images are courtesy of Lindsay Unified District. 

When educators tell the story of what galvanized them to embrace next gen learning, they often point to a watershed moment, a realization that so fundamentally shifted their thinking that it divided their career into “before” and “after.” (more…)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

CompetencyWorks Meetup at iNACOL18

October 15, 2018 by

Come meet your colleagues from across the country (and internationally) at 6 pm on Sunday, October 21 at the iNACOL18 President Reception. Look for the CompetencyWorks sign in the Davidson Ballroom/Innovation Corner. See you there!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

CBE Problems of Practice: Individualizing Learning


This is the fourth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendance, and pace.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

4. Defaulting to individual learning rather than cohorts of learners. Building on pace, quite a few districts have pushed for individual learning. It takes a very talented teacher to differentiate to this level; few are trained well to do so, few have received any training, and most are struggling. In fact, recent research suggests that collaboration brings valuable benefits to students and should be considered an important aspect of student-centered learning. (more…)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera