Updated: Competency-Based Education Across America

September 25, 2018 by

I received several requests to organize this by geography, not date. Most recent update: September 2018.

We recently updated the map of competency education because so many states  have taken steps forward for state policies to enable and invest in competency-based education. In reflecting upon how competency-based education is developing, we pulled together all the “case studies” we have done based on site visits and interviews in seventeen states. As soon as we can, we want to visit Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont. We should probably swing back and visit some of the places like Maine and New Hampshire to see what they are up to as well in the leading districts.

For those of you trying to learn more about competency education, we are hearing that some districts are using the case studies as discussion tools. Everyone reads about one school and then talks about what is challenging, how their understanding of the traditional system is changing, and what ideas they think might be valuable. It’s just a warm-up to embracing the values and assumptions that are the roots of competency education.


Chugach School District (2015)

Chugach School District: A Personalized, Performance-Based System

Part 1 – Explorations in Competency Education

Part 2 – Driven by Student Empowerment: Chugach School District

Part 3 – Chugach School District’s Performance-Based Infrastructure

Part 4 – Chugach Teachers Talk about Teaching

Part 5 – Ownership, Not Buy-In: An Interview with Bob Crumley, Superintendent Chugach School District

Part 6 – Chugach School District: Performance-Based Education in a One-Room School House

Part 7 – Teaching through the Culture: Native Education in a Performance-Based System

Part 8 – Performance-Based Home Schooling

Highland Tech Charter School, Alaska (2014)

Part 1 – Highland Tech Charter School – Putting it All Together

Part 2 – Advice From Highland Tech Students


Springdale School District (2015)

Innovation Springing Up in Springdale

Student-Focused Learning in Springdale (2017)

Part 1 – Springdale, Arkansas: A Tradition of Innovation and Future of Opportunity

Part 2 – Building Learning Momentum at Springdale’s School of Innovation

Part 3 – Finding Time and Providing Support for Student-Driven Learning

Part 4 – Encouraging Learning Risks and Growth


Lindsay Unified High School  (2015)

Part 1 – Six Trends at Lindsay Unified School District

Part 2 – Preparing Students for Life….Not Just College and Careers

Part 3 – An Interview with Principal Jaime Robles, Lindsay High School

Part 4 – An Interview with Brett Grimm: How Lindsay Unified Serves ELL Students

Part 5 – It Starts with Pedagogy: How Lindsay Unified is Integrating Blended Learning


District 51 (2017)

Part 1 – Designing Performance-Based Learning at D51

Part 2 – Building Consensus for Change at D51

Part 3 – The Vision of Performance-Based Education at D51

Part 4 – Holacracy: Organizing for Change at D51

Part 5 – Growing into the Framework: D51’s Implementation Strategy

Part 6 – Laying the Foundation with Culture and Climate

Part 7 – Supporting Teachers at D51: A Conversation with the Professional Learning Facilitators

Part 8 – Creating a Transparent Performance-Based System at D51

Part 9 – New Emerson: Learning the Effective Practices of the Learner-Centered Classroom

Part 10 – Transparency and Trust

Part 11 – Lincoln Orchard Mesa: What Did You Notice?

Part 12 – Performance-Based Learning in a Dual Immersion School

Part 13 – R5 High School: Abuzz with Learning

Part 14 – The Teacher Association Perspective on Performance-Based Learning

Part 15 – A Journey of Discovery at Broadway Elementary

Nina Lopez in Colorado (2018)

Part 1 – Lessons from a Vanguard: A Look at Metz Elementary

Part 2 – Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design (DSISD): Competency-Based by Design

Part 3 – Thompson School District: Student-Driven Learning at Work!



Superintendents Leading the Way in Connecticut

New Haven (2016)

Creating Meaningful Instruction through Mastery-Based Learning in New Haven, CT

New Haven Academy: Pedagogy Comes First

Windsor Locks Public Schools (2016)

Windsor Locks: Starting with Pedagogy

Naugatuck Public Schools (2016)

Naugatuck Public Schools: Making Meaning for Teachers with Mastery-Based Learning


Lake County Schools (2016)

Part 1 – Lake County Schools: Designing a Strategy to Bring Personalized Learning to Scale

Part 2 – Lake County Schools: Moving at the Speed of Trust at South Lake High School

Part 3 – Lake County Schools: Lost Lake Elementary is Putting the Fun Back into Teaching

Part 4 – Lake County Schools: Sawgrass Bay Elementary Increases Engagement with Personalized Learning

Part 5 – Lake County Schools: Windy Hill Middle School


Henry County, Georgia (2016)

Part 1 – Henry County Schools: Four Big Takeaways

Part 2 – Henry County Schools: Ensuring Success for Each Student

Part 3 – Henry County Schools: Scaling Strategies for Mid-Size Districts

Part 4 – Henry County Schools: What All of This Means for Schools

Part 5 – Henry County Schools: Impact Academy

Fulton County Schools (2014)

Fulton County Schools: A Big District Approach to Competency Education


Mastery-Based Learning in Idaho (2018)

Part 1 – Mastery-Based Learning in Idaho

Part 2 – Finding Synergy at Kuna Middle School

Part 3 – Moving Forward toward Mastery at Kuna School District

Part 4 – Increasing Credits Earned at Initial Point High School

Part 5 – Finding and Fixing the Missing Skills at Greenhurst Elementary School

Part 6 – Columbia High School: How a Comprehensive High School Becomes Mastery-Based

Part 7 – Gathering Insights on Mastery-Based Learning from Columbia High School

Part 8 – Slaying the Dragon: A Conversation with Cory Woolstenhulme on Mastery-Based Learning

Part 9 – Central Academy, West Ada School District

Part 10 – The Sharp Ones: A Few Takeaways from Idaho


CBE in Chicago (2017)

Part 1 – CBE in Chicago

Part 2 – Leap Innovations – Learning Exponentially for Advancing Potential

Part 3 – Loving Learning at Lovett Elementary

Part 4 – Personalizing Learning at West Belden

Part 5 – Getting Results at Lindblom

Part 6 – Servant to Two Masters: Balancing Skills and Content at Lindblom

Part 7 – Juarez Community Academy: When Big Schools Become Competency-Based


Eminence School District (2015)

A Conversation with Buddy Berry in Eminence Kentucky


Road Trip to Maine (2015/2016)

See update on Maine’s proficiency-based diploma policy

Biddeford School District

Part 1 – Biddeford School District: Never Unpack Alone

Casco Bay High School

Part 2 – Casco Bay High School: Tips and Takeaways

Part 3 – Casco Bay High School: Learning as Exploration

Part 4 – Casco Bay High School: The What and HOW of Learning

Part 5 – Casco Bay High School: We Will Shape our School by our Learning

Noble High School

Part 6 – Noble High School: Creating Timely, Differentiated Supports

Deer Isle-Stonington High School

Part 7 – Deer Isle-Stonington High School: Turning Around the Culture

Part 8 – Deer Island-Stonington High School: Breathing Life into the Standards

Part 9 – Deer Isle-Stonington High School: Takeaways and Burning Questions


Part 10 – RSU2: Entering a New Stage in Building a High Quality Proficiency-Based District

Part 11 – RSU2: Continuous Improvement at Richmond Middle and High School

Part 12 – RSU2: Moving Beyond Grade-Driven Learning

Part 13 – RSU2: Moving Beyond the Test Score with Hope

RSU2 (from 2014)

Part 1 – Quick Update from RSU2 Maine

Part 2 – Virgel Hammonds’ Six Insights into Leadership

Wells High School

Part 14 – Wells High School: The Timeline to Transformation

University of Maine at Presque Isle

Part 15 – University of Maine at Presque Isle: Moving at the Speed of Light

Part 16 – UMPI: Faculty Perspective

Part 17 – University of Maine at Presque Isle: Eliminating Remediation

Northern Maine Education Collaborative

Part 18 – Northern Maine Education Collaborative: High Aspirations


Melrose Public Schools (2016)

Can Melrose Go Deeper with Competency-Based Education?

Boston Day and Evening Academy (2012)

Part 1 – Reading the Pulse of Students at Boston Day and Evening Academy

Part 2 – Boston Day and Evening Academy: Where Competency Education is Good Teaching Practice

Part 3 – Boston Day and Evening Academy: A Learning Organization


Schools for the Future (2012)

No One Graduates Before They Are Ready


Eastern Carver County Schools (2016)

Part 1 – Moving from Islands of Innovation to a District of Distinction in Personalized Learning

Part 2 – Moving from Islands of Innovation to a District of Distinction in Personalized Learning


McComb School District (2018)

Part 1 – Personalizing the Learning in McComb, Mississippi

Part 2 – McComb’s Six Pillars of Student-Centered Learning

Part 3 – McComb’s Strategic Planning Begins with the Community

Part 4 – Piloting Change in McComb

Part 5 – Empowering Scholars at McComb’s Summit Elementary

Part 6 – Starting with the Kindergarteners in McComb

Part 7 – Starting the Journey to CBE at Otken Elementary School

Part 8 – Supporting Practitioners in McComb

New Hampshire

Parker-Varney Elementary (2016)

Parker-Varney Elementary: Keepers of the Bar

Pittsfield School District (2014)

Part 1 – Redesign at Pittsfield School District

Part 2 – Hand in Hand: Pittsfield Integrates Personalized Learning and Competency Education

Part 3 – Pittsfield Rethinks Adult Roles

Part 4 – Implementation Insights from Pittsfield School District

Sanborn Regional School District (2014)

Part 1 – Sanborn Regional School District Flips District Reform

Part 2 – Addressing Root Causes at Memorial Elementary School

Part 3 – Raising the Bar at Sanborn Regional High School

Making Community Connections Charter School  (2014)

Part 1 – Igniting Learning at the Making Community Connections Charter School

Part 2 – Gateways, Not Grades

New Jersey

Merit Prep (2015)

Part 1 – Merit Prep: Where Students Feel Safe to Learn

Part 2 – Non-Linear Progressions and Culture of Safety at Merit Prep

New York, New York City

Overview and Insights (2014)

Part 1 – Magical Mastery Tour

Part 2 – The Big Three Takeaways of the Magical Mastery Tour

Part 10 – All Together Now….the Magical Mastery Tour

Bronx International High School

Part 3 – First Stop of the Magical Mastery Tour: Bronx International High School

Carrol Gardens School for Innovation

Part 4 – Carroll Gardens School for Innovation (MS 442): Intentional School Design

EPIC Schools (See more in 2016)

Part 5 – EPIC Schools: Putting Young Men of Color in the Center of the Design (Part 1)

Part 6 – A Deeper Dive into the EPIC North Design (Part 2)

Bronx Arena

Part 7 – Bronx Arena: Organizing Spaghetti (Part 1)

Part 8 – Bronx Arena: Innovating Until 100% of Students Graduate (Part 2)

Urban Assembly Maker Academy

Part 9 – Asking the Right Questions: Urban Assembly Maker Academy

Overview and Insights (2016)

Part 1 – NYC Big Takeaways

Part 2 – Catalyzing Mastery-Based Learning: NYC’s Mastery Collaborative

Part 8 – Anchoring the Learning: A Discussion with Joel Rose at New Classrooms

Part 9 – Talking Equity with John Duval

The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria

Part 3 – The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria

Flushing International

Part 4 – Flushing International’s Three Learning Outcomes: Habits, Language, and Academic Skills

KAPPA International

Part 5 – KAPPA International: The Story of Angelica

North Queens Community High School

Part 6 – North Queens Community High School: Blooming the Outcomes

EPIC North 

Part 7 – High Expectations at EPIC North


Cleveland Metropolitan Schools (2017)

Part 1 – Cleveland: Where Pedagogy Comes First

Part 2 – Starting with Design Principles in Cleveland

Part 3 – Getting to Know Students’ Business: A Conversation at Lincoln-West’s Schools of Global Studies and Science & Health

Part 4 – E3agle and PACT: Insights from Two New Competency-Based Schools

Part 5 – A Conversation with Teachers in Cleveland


West Albany High School  (2103)

If Failure is Not an Option, Neither are Supports


Building 21 (2016)

Part 1 – Breaking out of the Boxes at Building 21

Part 2 – Building 21’s Competency Dashboard

Rhode Island

Laying the Groundwork for Proficiency-Based Learning in Rhode Island

South Carolina

Competency Education Takes Root in South Carolina

Red Bank Elementary (2016)

Part 1 – Red Bank Elementary: Five Big Takeaways

Part 2 – Red Bank Elementary School: Teaching Students, Not Standards

Part 3 – Red Bank Elementary School: Starting with the Pedagogy

Part 4 – Red Bank Elementary: What Students Have to Say about Personalized Learning

Part 5 – Red Bank Elementary: The Parent Perspective

Part 6 – Reflections on Learning

Part 7 – When Red Bank Went to Lindsay

Charleston County School District (2016)

Part 8 – Charleston County School District: Breaking Ground for Personalized Learning in Big Districts

Part 9 – Charleston: Progression of Implementation for Personalized Learning

Part 10 – Charleston: Personalized Learning at Pepperhill Elementary

Part 11 – Charleston: A Conversation with Teachers at Stall High School

Part 12 – Charleston: A Conversation with Teachers at Goodwin Elementary School

Part 13 – Charleston: Pinehurst Elementary School


Montpelier Public Schools (2016)

A Conversation with the Two Mikes from Montpelier


Kettle-Moraine (2017)

Part 1 – Kettle Moraine: Where the Future of Education is Being Created Student by Student

Part 2 – Kettle Moraine: How They Got Here and Where They are Going

Part 3 – The Five Pillars of Teaching and Learning at KM Explore 

Part 4 – The Sound of Learning at Create House at Kettle Moraine Middle School

Part 5 – KM Global: Pedagogy, Curriculum, and Learning Design

Part 6 – Chasing Competencies at KM Perform

Part 7 – Reaching Out into the Community at High School of Health Sciences

Part 8 – Practicing What They Preach: Micro-Credentialing at Kettle Moraine

Part 9 – Distributed Leadership at Kettle Moraine

Part 10 – A Quick Look at Kettle Moraine’s My Learning Collaborative

Waukesha (2017)

Part 1 – Blair Elementary

Part 2 – FLIGHT Academy

STEM Academy

Part 3 – Creating a Learner-Driven System in Waukesha (Part 1) 

Part 4 – Personalizing Instruction and Learning Experiences (Part 2)

Part 5 – Waukesha STEM Academy: Rethinking Space, Time, and Reporting (Part 3)

Part 6 – Waukesha STEM Academy’s Journey from ABC to the Learner Continuum (Part 4)

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  1. Comment by Dave Richards 2:16 pm, July 6, 2016

    Hi Chris,

    One day – Fraser Public Schools will make your list of CBL districts.

    Hope you are well,

  2. Comment by Chris Sturgis 8:47 am, July 7, 2016

    Dave — You just let me know when you are ready for an interview or formal site visit about your progress towards CBE. You all had so much happening on so many fronts — just a fountain of innovation — when I visited. I’ve just been waiting until things had settled a bit more — you just let me know!

  3. Comment by Marsha Myles 10:47 am, July 9, 2016

    I look forward to the two of you putting something together and showcasing the great work in Fraser!

  4. Comment by Dr. Oliver Grenham 10:36 am, July 26, 2016

    Chris – I sincerely hope you are planning to visit us in Westminster Public Schools (formerly Adams County School District 50) when in Colorado so you can catch up with our progress. CBE is beginning to expand across the state where we are continuing to serve as a mentor district both in the K12 and community college arenas. Over the past few years the state has also demonstrated active support in assisting districts to move in this direction although current politics is now beginning to obscure and derail innovative efforts. Thank you for continuing to publish remarkable examples of this work across the country.

  5. Comment by Rose Colby 3:41 pm, August 31, 2016

    Yes–Please do have that conversation with Dave and Carrie in Fraser!

  6. Comment by Jenny Finn 8:25 pm, June 10, 2018

    Hello! Please add us to this list! We are a 7th-12th grade private school, 501 (c) (3) in Floyd, VA that is engaged in competency-based learning. Thank you!

  7. Comment by Chris Sturgis 6:22 am, June 11, 2018

    Thanks Jenny for telling us about you. This list is only those that there has been an article written about the schools so people can learn. I will add you to the list on the wiki under Virginia. Thanks for letting us know about you.

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