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Aurora Institute

Seeking Similarities

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Stephanie Krauss

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

Stephanie_060 (2)This past summer I got the chance to enter into the world of competency-based higher education. I knew embarrassingly little about this part of the field even though I previously founded a competency-based high school (more here). Over the past few months, I have been inspired by and had my eyes opened to this vibrant body of work.

In higher education, there is a rapidly growing group of leaders and educators who care deeply about education equity and the learning needs and outcomes of their students. To me, they seem to be radical and boundary-pushing. These are my kind of people—I presume they are yours too.

Over the next few months, I hope to share many of their stories with you. In this storytelling, I think that you will come to find what I have: camaraderie, lessons and challenges to your thinking about this work and the reasons why we do it. I have also decided to stay involved on the higher education side of the work – I think that they can really benefit from the stories and ideas and the lessons that we in K-12 have learned along the way.

Our field is nascent. And, if we are honest, while our work is very promising we still lack enough proof points. So for now, our stories are all that we have—they teach us, inspire us to keep going, and give us some idea of what works and why. If I was still running a competency-based school, I would absolutely adopt some of the ideas and tools that are being created and circulated in higher education. And, if I was still in practice, I would rely on a site like CompetencyWorks to gather up the best ideas and information and share it with me, because I certainly would not have the time and energy to do it on my own.

So, I hope that this emerging story of competency-based higher education helps you to grow and get better. And as we move forward, let me offer an old saying from the folks in recovery from addictions: look for similarities, not differences. Learn from your shared experience, don’t compare.

Stephanie Malia Krauss is a Senior Fellow at The Forum For Youth Investment focusing on issues of youth readiness and competency-based education. She was previously President and chief executive officer of Shearwater Education Foundation.