Author: Eliot Levine and Susan Patrick

CompetencyWorks Releases Report Updating Definition of Competency-Based Education

November 14, 2019 by

Report CoverToday, the CompetencyWorks initiative of the Aurora Institute (formerly iNACOL) released What Is Competency-Based Education? An Updated Definition. The report updates the 2011 working definition, which helped to build the field and create common understandings of key elements in competency-based systems among stakeholders. The definition has been used by schools to support design and implementation, by states to establish supporting policies and a common vision, and by national organizations to provide frameworks for networks of states, districts, and schools to discuss their initiatives and build shared understanding.

The 2011 working definition was developed by more than 100 education innovators at the first National Summit for K-12 Competency-Based Education. Several years later, feedback indicated that it should be updated to reflect a deeper understanding of key issues and developments in the field. The new report presents the updated definition, which was developed with extensive input from field surveys, invited attendees at the second National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education in 2017, and a Technical Advisory Group of more than 40 experts in the field.

Updated Definition

The updated 2019 definition of competency-based education is:

  1. Students are empowered daily to make important decisions about their learning experiences, how they will create and apply knowledge, and how they will demonstrate their learning.
  2. Assessment is a meaningful, positive, and empowering learning experience for students that yields timely, relevant, and actionable evidence.
  3. Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  4. Students progress based on evidence of mastery, not seat time.
  5. Students learn actively using different pathways and varied pacing.
  6. Strategies to ensure equity for all students are embedded in the culture, structure, and pedagogy of schools and education systems.
  7. Rigorous, common expectations for learning (knowledge, skills, and dispositions) are explicit, transparent, measurable, and transferable.

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