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Aurora Institute

An Addition for Your Library on Competency Education

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Learn Lessons from the Field

Lindsay Unified School District has released their book Beyond Reform: Systemic Shifts Toward Personalized Learning. If you are contemplating moving toward a personalized, competency-based (Lindsay uses the term performance-based) system, you’ll want to take a look at this book. Many educators have been making their way to visit Lindsay, but not everyone has the time or can afford the travel. This book covers the basics of how Lindsay decided to move beyond the traditional system designed for sorting to one that is designed to help students learn.

You’ll find chapters on preparing for change, creating a new culture, leadership, supporting educators, and transforming teaching and learning. The book provides a strong overview on each. However be prepared to be a bit frustrated. It’s a overview, not a handbook. You’ll be left hungry for tools, details, and examples. My understanding is that with grants from Race to the Top and private foundations, Lindsay will share artifacts of their system.

I know there is a lot of frustration in the field that although Lindsay has been generous in opening up their doors, it remains somewhat difficult to get a deeper understanding of how it all works. Remember, they have been under construction (and most competency-based schools with a commitment to continuous improvement will always say that) – and their first and foremost duty is to get their performance-based system as strong as it can be on behalf of their students and community. Lindsay is building capacity to support other districts, but we should never rely on other districts to become technical assistance providers. Their students will always come first!

Book List

We know that short articles and briefing papers never have enough depth. Sometimes you just want to dive into a book. Below are a list of books that I know about that have been written about competency-based education. It’s hard to make recommendations – you’ll find wisdom in all of them. But not every book is going to be the perfect one for you and your community to read. There are other books underway as well, so stay tuned.

Delivering on the Promise: The Education Revolution by Richard A. DeLorenzo, Wendy J. Battino, Rick M. Schreiber , Barbara B. Gaddy Carrio (2008)

It’s About Time: A Framework for Proficiency-Based Teaching and Learning by Diane Smith for the Business Education Compact

Off the Clock: Moving Education from Time to Competency by Fredrick (Fred) J. Bramante and Rose L. Colby (2012)

Learners Rule: Giving Them a Voice Improves the Culture of Their Classrooms by Bill Zima (2014)

Over-Tested and Under-Prepared: Using Competency Based Learning to Transform Our Schools by Bob Sornson (2016)

Thinking Hierarchies: Creating Classrooms of Thinkers and Not Simply Knowers by Bill Zima (2016)

There are, of course, a number of wonderful books on personalizing education that can be helpful as well. Let us know your favorites are.