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Find Out What’s New in Competency Education

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

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

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 5.46.42 AMHere are some of the recent highlights about competency education!


  • American Youth Policy Forum (one of CompetencyWorks founding partners) is holding a forum on District and State Considerations for Incorporating Expanded Learning into Competency-Based Systems on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 1:00-2:15 PM ET. Speakers include Stephanie Krauss, Senior Fellow, Forum for Youth Investment, Kate Nielsen, Senior Policy Analyst, National Governors Association, and Michelle Un, Project Manager, Research & Data, Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance. You can register here.

Analysis and Reflections

Updates on Districts and States

  • Follow Sandburg Elementary School in Freeport Illinois as they convert to a personal mastery model. The first step was a “focus on student voice and choice since it is the foundation of personalized mastery. They would start with three concrete strategies – the code of collaboration, monitoring the code of collaboration, and parking lots. Kleindl decided that teachers could determine how far they wanted to take each of these strategies, but at a minimum they had to demonstrate a basic level of implementation.” Thanks to West Ed for sharing their story.
  • Portland Maine has updated high school graduation requirements including proficiency-based requirements, a capstone project and post-secondary plan. The chair of the Portland Task Force developing the graduation requirements, Kate Snyder, explains “There is that sort of flexibility so it’s not just about the magic four years, or the time in a seat,” said Snyder. “It’s really about, are you able to demonstrate that you’ve mastered a subject area, that you can demonstrate proficiency, and that we’re all satisfied that you’re ready to move on.”
  • The Maine DOE released results from the proficiency-based diploma Readiness Inventory, a tool designed to help school districts better understand their progress toward proficiency and to help determine which of the six extension options is best for them to pursue. According to the DOE’s website, “Ninety percent of the districts that responded to the inventory said they did not have a plan in place for communicating the new changes in their education system to the general public. English language arts and mathematics were the most frequently cited content areas in which teachers were collecting evidence of student proficiency. Eighteen of the 73 respondents said they would be ready to report on student proficiency in the complex reasoning skills, work habits, and personal responsibility skills that reach across all the content areas and are embedded in the Guiding Principles of Maine’s learning standards.”
  •  In Fort Mill, South Carolina, the school district has “approved a proficiency-based credit plan, which summarizes the district’s programs that allow students to earn credits in non-traditional ways…The proficiency based-system addresses content/credit recovery, distance, online and virtual education and the Alternative School Program, which helps at-risk students attend school in lieu of expulsion for certain, non-violent offenses.”  This is a great example of innovation slipping in the back door through areas of non-consumption and marginalized programming.