A competency is a defined cluster of related capabilities (skills and knowledge) with
methods and criteria to determine the degree to which a person demonstrates mastery in them. Competencies often correspond to roles, such as student, plumber, or writer, and mastery may be benchmarked toward the ultimate demonstration of proficiency in that role (p. 6).
Competencies in education can be categorized as personal, academic, or career/occupational (p. 7).
CBE, an educational approach that focuses on the mastery of
competencies—rather than seat time—as the measure of student
learning, is increasingly being recognized as a key strategy for
ensuring that all students can reach the higher bar of college and
career readiness (Martinez & Poon, 2015; Worthen & Patrick,
2015). In a competency-based approach, students earn credit by
demonstrating that they have met specific learning targets—that is,
competencies (p. 2).
Many of us grew up in "traditional" education systems where all kids moved through the same material at the same time. When the teacher got to the end of a unit, there was a test, and if you did not grasp the material, the teacher moved on. Everyone had access to the same instruction, and consequently, some flourished while others were left behind. Competency-Based Education turns the traditional model on its head to ensure that all students master learning objectives in modalities and at the pace that meets their individual needs.
Competency-Based Education (CBE) is an educational approach, often referred to as proficiency or mastery-based, in which schools and teachers provide differentiated instruction and supports, and students move ahead on their lessons based on their demonstration of mastery instead of when a unit is complete.
Keep reading to learn how this toolkit can help you explore and master the basics of CBE.
How can this toolkit help me?
The Center on Innovations in Learning (CIL) CBE Toolkit is a learning resource for teachers, administrators, district personnel, or other educators and policymakers who want to learn more about Competency-Based Education. It is intended to be a professional development experience that you can navigate independently, providing you with topic-specific modules and questions to assess your mastery of the content. In essence, you will get to participate in a CBE learning experience for yourself! Each module will also connect you to resources from other organizations focused on this important work. Use this toolkit as an independent professional, as the basis for your school’s professional development, or as a resource you share with colleagues.
How this toolkit is designed
This toolkit is designed as a self-guided exploration of Competency-Based Education. The content is grouped into five independent modules, each of which has its own topic, or competency, and questions for mastery. Each module includes information about the topic, as well as videos, graphics, and links to external resources if you want more information. For the full experience, we recommend reviewing each of the modules in order, but you are welcome to pick and choose the modules that are most relevant to you.
Below are the five modules of this Competency-Based Education toolkit:
Module 1: I’m New to This: What is Competency-Based Education (CBE)?
Module 2: What Does CBE Implementation Look Like in the Classroom?
Module 3: What Tools Can I Use to Measure Mastery?
Module 4: What Does CBE Implementation Look Like at the District/State Level?
Module 5: Is CBE Right For Me?
About the Toolkit:
This toolkit is based on the Center on Innovations in Learning’s 3rd Annual Institute, Building Educator Competence in Competency-based Education, held Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the Kiva Auditorium, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. The 2018 Institute was created and hosted by Janet S. Twyman, Director of Innovation and Technology at the Center on Innovations in Learning. Drs. Amanda Klein and Jan Donley adapted the material for use in the toolkit.
From the 2018 Institute:
Across the country teachers, administrators, schools, and districts are embracing competency-based education systems (CBE). CBE’s premise is simple: students are better served by measuring their mastery of learning goals, rather than the number of hours they spend in a classroom. It’s a deliberate movement away from the traditional “one-size-fits-all” education model; instead, students are supported and enabled to advance when they’ve demonstrated competency, regardless of the time, place, path, pace, practice, or trace of their learning. In a high quality CBE model students advance upon meaningful assessment of mastery of explicit, measurable, real-world competencies. Students receive timely, personalized support and learning outcomes emphasize the application and creation of new knowledge, along with the development of personal competencies.
During the Institute, participants learned about the foundational principles of CBE, discovered different models of CBE, reflected on what other states are doing, saw students and teachers in video action, and considered promising practices that they could use in their district or state. They didn’t get too comfy in their chairs, as the Institute wasn’t a “sit and get”, participants worked hard developing their own competency in CBE by progressing –at their own optimal pace—through a series of modules, activities, and solo and team events. Accomplishments were be recognized with theme-based badges, will all participants striving to earn as many as possible during the action packed day.
Developing Competencies while Personalizing Learning
Ohio Department of Education
Center on Innovations in Learning
Great Lakes Comprehensive Center
Presenter: Dr. Janet Twyman