In a recent article, I reported on how competency-based learning (CBL) systems continue to take hold across the nation. According to the International Association of Online K-12 Learning (iNACOL), 49 out of 50 states currently have policy language in place to support CBL systems in schools and school districts.

Competency-based learning is sometimes referred to as mastery learning, proficiency-based learning, and, to a lesser degree, standards-based learning. It is part of a larger movement known as personalized learning, a philosophy that puts students at the center of their learning and encourages schools to identify multiple pathways for student learning and achievement.

In effective competency-based schools, the following is true:

  • Students advance upon demonstrated mastery.
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

This Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET, iNACOL will be hosting a free webinar to provide assistance to educators in their transition to a competency-based system. According to the group’s website, the webinar will “offer participants a roadmap and possible on-ramps from the traditional schooling model to a personalized, competency-based model.

With an overview of the hallmarks of CBE and a discussion of instructional practices and changes in grading and assessments, the discussion will center the role of collaborative teams and focused professional learning in supporting the transition. In addition, attendees will learn how state policy can support scaling their efforts.

I have been asked to be a part of this webinar, along with Maria Worthen, Vice President for Federal and State Policy at iNACOL, and Jonathan Vander Els, Director of Innovative Projects for the New Hampshire Learning Initiative.

Over the years, I have written a number of MultiBriefs Exclusives that can offer support to educators in their development of a CBL model. Some of these topics will be discussed in this webinar. Here is a brief summary of the articles that are available for review:

Move when ready: The case for eliminating grade levels: In this article, I report out on why CBL schools are looking at ways to help students move their learning at their own pace.

A grading debate: Pros and cons of reassessments and Grading on what students learn, not what they earn: In these two articles, I share resources on how CBL schools have developed grading practices that better reflect what students know and are able to do.

How teaching becomes the test in New Hampshire: In this article, I report out on how the state of New Hampshire was approved by the U.S. Department of Education for a “first in the nation” waiver to standardized accountability testing requirements. In some New Hampshire CBL schools, performance tasks are used in place of a standardized test to measure accountability.

Adding ‘soft skills’ to report cards and Assessing work study practices in schools: In these articles, I discuss how schools work to separate academics from skills and dispositions and develop assessment and reporting structures to measure growth.

Flexible periods allow for personalized learning opportunities: In this article, I talk about one common way CBL secondary schools have added support structures to help all students be successful in a competency-based system.

I hope these resources help you on your journey towards reimagining your classroom and school as you move through your own journey to competency education.