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Aurora Institute

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Natalie Slocum

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

What's new! star graphicThis VUE article, written by Scott F. Marion, Jonathan Vander Els, and Paul Leather, looks at how New Hampshire’s new performance assessment system focuses on reciprocal accountability and shared leadership among teachers and leaders at the school, district and state levels.

Grading and Transcripts

  • This article poses the question, what if your high school transcript didn’t include grades?
  • School District 51 is phasing out valedictorian and salutatorian recognitions for high school graduates, starting with this year’s ninth-grade students. The students who graduate in 2021 will receive recognitions similar to the Latin honor system used in colleges and universities — cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude. School districts across the country are considering the change or have already gotten rid of valedictorian and salutatorian recognitions to focus less on grading and more on broader definitions of student success.

A Spotlight on Pittsfield Middle High School

Updates in New England


  • 100+ educators and administrators from 25 schools participated in Thomas College’s conference to innovate for the future of Maine’s education—an example of higher education responding to the changing needs of the K-12 system.
  • According to The Heartland Institute in Illinois, competency-based education is gaining ground nationwide.
  • Districts are recognizing the importance of teachers having time to learn, plan and collaborate.
  • This article shares promising findings from the recent RAND report analyzing Next Generation Learning Challenges schools’ implementation of next gen learning models.

Thought Leadership

  • Patrick Riccards of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation analyzes the current debate of student growth versus proficiency, and proposes that competency-based education and focusing on student mastery is the learning of the future.
  • Allyn Hutton reflects on her time as Kittery schools (Maine) superintendent and their shift to proficiency-based learning.

New Resources

  • A new book published by Rowman & Littlefield and CSSR titled, They’re Not Stupid: Unleashing the Genius of Each Student, confronts the existing ideology that school redesign can’t happen in already existing comprehensive high schools. Authors Joseph DiMartino and Jason B. Midwood demonstrate how real change can come about by providing concrete examples from their work with schools and local and state leaders across the country.
  • Next Generation Learning Challenges launched a new blog on Education Week that highlights the benefits, successes, challenges and best practices of real-life educators implementing personalized learning, blended learning, and next generation learning in classrooms across the country.

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