Skip to content
Aurora Institute

Recognizing that learning is done by students—not to them or for them—competency-based schools use strategies to help them build skills and mindsets to direct their own course in life and become lifelong learners.


When students develop agency, they find purpose in learning, persist through challenges, and manage their own learning. Competency-based schools design environments and experiences that give students opportunities to develop the skills and mindsets needed for a strong sense of agency, such as growth mindset, self-regulation, and perseverance. When students take ownership of their learning, teachers are better able to provide tailored and targeted instruction. The Aurora Institute’s definition of competency-based education says that, “Students are empowered daily to make important decisions about their learning experiences, how they will create and apply knowledge, and how they will demonstrate their learning.”

Related COntent


September 29, 2021

A Mastery-Based Math Teacher’s Journey

Ashley Ferrara


October 1, 2018

Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education

Chris Sturgis, Katherine Casey


November 1, 2019

What Is Competency-Based Education? An Updated Definition

Eliot Levine, Susan Patrick


October 1, 2018

Maximizing Student Agency: Implementing and Measuring Student-Centered Learning Practices

Kristina Zeiser, Carrie Scholz, Victoria Cirks


October 7, 2019

Pathways, Pacing, and Agency Are Intertwined

Eliot Levine


July 28, 2014

Mindsets and Student Agency

Eduardo Briceño


November 19, 2018

3 Tools to Engage Ownership in Your Classroom

Stephen Johnson