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Aurora Institute

What’s New in K-12 Competency-Based Education?

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Dr. Eliot Levine

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

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  • iNACOL just released our 2019 State Policy Priorities and 2019 Federal Policy Priorities. These briefs provide a long-range vision of reforms needed to create personalized, competency-based learning environments to ensure that all students develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they will need to achieve success and advance society.
  • In How to Design a Competency-Based Assessment, Eric Hudson, the Director of Learning and Teaching at Global Online Academy, provides an overview of four main steps: articulating competencies, developing evidence, building student-friendly rubrics, and creating learning experiences – with extensive links to more detailed information.
  • In Designing Advisory Systems: Innovative Approaches from High Schools, Springpoint provides five case studies of advisory systems that aim to build community, create a safe environment, and ensure that every student has a trusted adult invested in their success. Each school has a different approach to advisory, customized to its students and context, so the report provides a variety of helpful models and program elements.


  • Exploring the Path to College Completion by Race/Ethnicity, a recent installment in the Data Dialogue Series of the New England Secondary School Consortium, provides compelling graphics that show attrition from high school graduation through college enrollment and persistence that is more pronounced for some racial/ethnic groups than others. The brief provides reflection and dialogue questions to support communities and schools in exploring the reasons for these disparities in service of improving educational equity.
  • In Finding New Ways to Listen to What the Evidence Tells Us, Mathematica Policy Research shares lessons learned about conducting culturally responsive research from their work with tribal communities. These including adopting a culturally humble attitude, expanding data collection time to respect cultural protocols, and acknowledging the role of culture and history in research, among others – with examples of how they have used each of these strategies.


  • The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released a set of reports addressing the evidence that a focus on academic learning must be complemented by development of social and emotional skills that are essential for student success, and how this can be accomplished. The main report is From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope. The Commission also released a Practice Agenda , a Research Agenda, and a Policy Agenda to support this work.


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