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Aurora Institute

Re-Envisioning Professional Learning in Competency-Based Education

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Katherine Casey

Issue(s): State Policy, Develop Educator Capacity, Issues in Practice, Support Professional Learning

Educators are vital to developing and expanding competency-based education. Where competency-based education is most successful, it has been shaped and sustained by teams of innovative teacher-leaders.

Today, CompetencyWorks released a new report, Moving Toward Mastery: Growing, Developing and Sustaining Educators for Competency-Based Education to address these challenges head on. It describes the roles educators play in competency-based systems and the new knowledge and skills they need, presenting an aspirational vision of a teaching profession fully aligned with the culture, structures and pedagogy of competency-based education. It offers 15 strategies that leaders, educators and communities can enact to move their systems forward on the pathway toward this vision.

Specifically, Moving Toward Mastery describes the systems change needed to create a profession that is:

  • Equity-oriented: designed to promote success for all students, foster inclusion and cultural responsiveness for students and adults and disrupt systemic inequities;
  • Learning-centered: designed to continuously develop educators’ knowledge, skill and personal mastery, sustain authentic collaboration and promote innovation; and
  • Lifelong: designed to authentically engage, develop, motivate and sustain educators over the course of their careers, including preparation, certification and advancement.

Scaling competency-based education with consistent quality presents a dual challenge: increasing the number of educators who have the knowledge and skill to be competency-based practitioners and simultaneously improving the quality of teaching.

Historically, many education reform efforts have been top-down. They have assigned educators the responsibility of making policy and practice reforms work, but they have not integrated educator voice in their design, and they have underestimated the supports educators need to meet new demands. Breaking from this mold, Moving Toward Mastery offers a collaborative and distributed vision for changing professional learning. The report was developed in collaboration with educators, leaders and experts across the nation to ensure that it includes the values and wisdom of people closest to the work. And, it is written for leaders at multiple levels: state, district, school, higher education and community.

Moving Toward Mastery is not a report that describes what educators must do differently to improve learning and teaching. Rather, it helps leaders and teams at all levels of the system address the question, “What can I do to support teachers and improve teaching, and where do my actions fit in the larger picture of systems change?”

For more information on professional learning and development in competency education systems, download the full report.

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