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Aurora Institute

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

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Laurie Gagnon

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Lead Change and Innovation

What's NewAs you head into the new school year, check out these resources and research from the first part of 2022.

CBE Practice and Change Resources

XQ Student Performance Framework – This set of competencies and sub-competencies, each with a series of developmental progressions, aligns with the XQ Learner Outcomes. The framework offers aspirational, research-based outcomes for what all students must know and be able to do in order to thrive in the future. Read more about the work and find ideas for how to integrate the framework to design new learning pathways and approaches to assessment for learning.   

MTC School Change Tracker
MTC School Change Tracker Tool Display

Journey to Mastery Learning – Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC) created a framework for school change that is grounded in the competencies schools need to master as they implement new instructional models. The framework mirrors MTC’s tools for learners.

CBE Mastery Framework and Videos – The Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Southeast Competency-Based Education (CBE) alliance produced a series of videos using interviews with educators in North Carolina that are at various stages of implementing CBE. They offer practical advice for educators interested in exploring CBE across the dimensions of Structure, Culture, Teaching, and Learning.

North Carolina Competency-Based Education Framework

Global Online Academy (GOA) Resource Hub – GOA has adopted Competency-Based Learning (CBL) in pursuit of three outcomes for students: agency, equity, and transfer. The new GAO hub for competency-based learning includes five new self-paced, competency-based learning courses. These courses are 5-7 hour learning experiences, featuring resources, examples, and a downloadable workbook. 

CBE-related Research

From State Commitment to District Implementation: Approaches and Strategies for Personalized, Competency-Based Learning – Research for Action partnered with KnowledgeWorks to document and analyze how personalized, competency-based learning is taking hold in four study states (Arizona, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Carolina). In addition to the report, there are summaries of District Implementation Findings and State Level Findings.

What Made Them So Prepared Research Findings – The Prepared Project, a multi-organizational collaboration led by Next Generation Learning Challenge, studied 70 learning models and cultures that reported being genuinely prepared for the challenges of COVID. Student wearing a maskThe three factors identified were 1) Symmetric, Forward-Leaning Orientation, 2) Healthy Culture, and 3) Strong and Flexible Systems. These factors align with CBE, including having a broadened vision of student success and enabling and distributing agency among the students and adults in the system. 

Interdisciplinary Education Literature Review and Landscape Analysis – A summary of findings from interviews with 28 people doing work related to interdisciplinary education. The project, a collaboration between RTI International and Lucas Education Research, aimed to “better understand the current landscape of interdisciplinary education including definitions, examples, reach, roadblocks, and the potential for its expansion in the field of education as well as necessary resources, supports, structures, and policies.”

Departmentalized Education Versus Interdisciplinary World
Departmentalized Education Versus Interdisciplinary World

Imagining Liberatory Education Futures – KnowledgeWorks’ sixth anchor forecast on the future of learning shares four scenarios for anti-oppressive and liberatory education in 20 years. Ideas include foundational issues on the horizon that can be used to generate strategies to create a better future for all learners in K-12 schools, informal and community-based learning organizations, and higher education institutions.

Diversifying the Educator Workforce Collaborative Regional Landscape Snapshot – Inspired by a growing body of research that demonstrates the positive impacts of teachers of color on short- and long-term academic outcomes of all students, Great Schools Partnership, with support from the Barr Foundation, summarizes efforts to diversify the educator workforce in the New England states.   

CBE Policy Resources

Aurora Institute’s 2022 Federal Policy Priorities – The Aurora Institute’s Center for Policy’s annual list of federal policy priorities aims to reshape our public education system to be more personalized, competency-based, and equitable. Federal policymakers interested in driving innovation, transformation, and equity can look to these nine recommendations to learn and chart a future-focused path forward.

Aurora Institute’s 2022 State Policy Priorities – State education policymakers can use the twelve recommendations informed by the field to take action. The full set of policy priorities challenge lawmakers and education decision-makers to wield their influence and take advantage of existing opportunities to disrupt the traditional one-size-fits-all model of K-12 teaching and learning. 

Graphic of state policy recommendations

State Policies to Support Student-Centered Learning – This policy brief by the Education Commission of the States and KnowledgeWorks offers an analysis of policy trends, comprehensive state examples and key considerations for those interested in a personalized, competency-based system. Three categories of policy options for states include a) assessment of student mastery, b) flexible governance, and c) student-centered learning frameworks. The brief also highlights existing student-centered learning policies across the country in a 50-state policy scan.

Professional Learning

Aurora Institute Symposium graphicAurora Institute Symposium 2022 – Join the field’s largest gathering of education innovators implementing personalized, competency-based learning. The Aurora Institute Symposium will be held on October 24-26, 2022. Session strands will include shifting to competency-based education, transforming education systems to be designed for equity, modernizing professional learning, and more. Aurora Institute members can attend free of charge.

The Learning Lab Orientation – Education Reimagined’s next seven-session course will bring together a community that shares a passion for transforming learning. Beginning on September 13, you will develop insight into the learner-centered worldview and language, explore strategies for providing an equitable learner-centered education for all children, and see new opportunities to make learner-centered education more available in your community and beyond.

Laurie Gagnon is the Aurora Institute’s CompetencyWorks Program Director.

Follow @LaurieGagnon98 


Laurie Gagnon

Program Director, CompetencyWorks

All blog posts from Laurie Gagnon