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Aurora Institute

Summer Reading: Building a System

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, How to Get Started, Learn Lessons from the Field

Stack of BooksI received a number of emails asking for a recommend reading list for competency education for summer reading. We are all at different levels in our understanding and thinking about competency education, so I’m going to create three summer reading lists (and as always, please add your “must reads” in comments below):

  1. Building the System: For folks who have been working in competency education and want to think more deeply about how we transform the entire system.
  2. What Does Competency Education Look Like?: To provide examples of resources about the ways schools are designing and districts are transforming their systems.
  3. What is Competency Education?: A reading list for newbies who really want to understand what competency education is and what it takes to make the transition.

Below is a beginning reading list (I’m hoping others will suggest some good resources) about how we are advancing and where we need to go. Even trying to put this together made me realize how much our conversations about what is possible are in fact just that—conversations. We may not yet be at the place where we know how all of the pieces will form a competency-based system, but we are certainly ready to start putting our ideas together and sketching out what might be possible.

FYI: At the end of this post, I’ve listed a number of big questions that we don’t have a lot written on yet. Obviously this is an open invitation to anyone who wants to tackle organizing some ideas so we can engage in shaping our future together. Also, if you have recommended reading that captures some of the big ideas that will be forming the new competency-based system, please pass this on.


Systems of Assessments

Human Resources (i.e. Teacher Evaluation and other things)

Fully Integrating Personalized, Blended, and Competency Education

There are lots of pieces trying to explain the relationship between these, but few that start to explain what this could look like if we were taking advantage of everything we know. The Shift From Cohorts to Competency (soon to be re-released), iNACOL’s Mean What You Say and Maximizing Competency Education and Blended Learning begin this conversation. ReSchool Colorado is thinking beyond schools to what a new system might look like.

Big Questions We Need to Tackle

  • Equity: What are the equity concerns, how do we need to address them, and are there different ways to be thinking about equity in a personalized, competency-based system? What are we learning about how CBE needs to be implemented to ensure traditionally under-served students benefit? Papers have been written on this topic, but we haven’t yet done research based on the actual insights of competency-based leaders yet.
  • Student Agency and Lifelong Learning Competencies: What are the most important skills and lifelong learning competencies students need to become independent learners who can be successful in college and careers? How do schools need to adapt to ensure students develop agency in managing their own learning and education?
  • Designing Learning Continuums: How should competencies and standards be organized to best support student learning, instruction, and assessment while also being viable operationally? Opinions abound, but we haven’t yet organized a way to build out this learning so districts can be fully informed of options and implications of different ways of structuring their systems.