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Aurora Institute

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

CompetencyWorks Blog

Aurora Institute News and Reports

  • When the new Aurora Institute (formerly iNACOL) website goes live in early spring, will become part of it. All CompetencyWorks blog posts and reports will be available in the new location. More information will be provided when the new site is launched.
  • In January the Aurora Institute and the Center for Assessment released How Systems of Assessments Aligned with Competency-Based Education Can Support Equity. The report offers guidance for designing balanced assessment systems to support competency-based education’s equity goals.

Competency-Based Education Resources

  • The Center for Collaborative Education launched a podcast, Assessment for Good, that grapples with traditional, and often oppressive, educational assessment practices. The podcast explores designing assessments that help educators understand what students know and can do while ensuring love and compassion are not lost in the process.
  • Phyllis Lockett of LEAP Innovations is writing a terrific series of columns for Forbes Magazine with a focus on personalized learning. Her column Third-Grade Shoes Won’t Fit In 2020 provides powerful advocacy for personalized learning and addresses common misperceptions.
  • In Proficiency Based Learning: Stay The Course, Iterate & Improve, Mike McRaith of the Vermont Principals Association shares thoughtful reflections on why Vermont should continue to deepen its proficiency-based practices and what is needed to “weather expected pockets of concern, and alleviate stakeholders’ fears without knocking the work off course unnecessarily.”

Parent-Focused Resources

  • In a persuasive article targeted to parents, Making Powerful Educational Choices for our Children, Ulcca Joshi Hansen of Education Reimagined makes the case for key aspects of student-centered learning and how parents can contribute to driving change.
  • Show What You Know: A Parent’s Guide To The Global Shift To Competency by Tom Vander Ark provides a brief and clear overview of how competency-based schools are addressing “six big problems” by “creating more interesting and authentic extended learning experiences, providing better and broader feedback on the skills that matter, providing extra time and support to students who need it, and equipping learners to better describe their capabilities.”


  • In Building Solid Evidence – It’s Working at Lindsay Unified, the California district provides a two-page summary of impressive changes in student outcomes and school climate during several years of implementing their “uncompromisingly learner-centered model.” This analysis is a valuable asset for the field and a reporting model that other districts could emulate.
  • Analysis and Reflections on Student Outcome Data in RSU2 from KnowledgeWorks and RAND investigates outcomes from the district’s first five years of implementing personalized, competency-based education. The report also provides important reflections on challenges and opportunities of PL/CBE research that can inform future studies.
  • Deeper Learning Networks: Taking Student-Centered Learning and Equity to Scale, a new report from the Learning Policy Institute, shares findings across case studies of three networks of schools that have successfully created, sustained, and spread student-centered, deeper learning practices. The networks are Big Picture Learning, New Tech Network, and the International Network for Public Schools.

Eliot Levine is the Aurora Institute’s Research Director and leads CompetencyWorks.

Follow @eliot_levine