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Aurora Institute


Issues in Practice, Commit to Equity, Evaluate Quality

Charting the Course for the Next Phase of K-12 Competency-Based Education

Host: CompetencyWorks, iNACOL|Nina Lopez Consulting

This webinar was recorded on .

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K-12 education in the United States and across the world is at a turning point. The steady march towards equality and justice within our country has changed the context for our education system. At the same time, rapid and unpredictable changes in society and culture have created new expectations for education, changing what we need our education systems to provide for students and our society. The traditional system of public education was not designed with this context or these expectations in mind. The promise of, and demand for, competency-based education has never been greater. We have an opportunity to redesign our system and structures so that they are fit for the intended purpose of our education system. 

CompetencyWorks released a new report, Quality and Equity by Design: Charting the Course for the Next Phase of K-12 Competency-Based Education, which is a resource for the field at a critical time in its evolution. This report is grounded in a decade of learning from schools and districts across the country, observing and developing insights into implementation and design. In the process, we have learned valuable lessons and shared resources with others in the field. Today, nearly every state has created some room for innovation that accommodates competency-based education, and competency-based systems are expanding across the country. The report explores four key issues that will enable competency education to continue to scale with quality and be sustained over the long term:

  • Equity: The vision for educational equity is a thriving, fair and just system. How can competency-based systems of education directly address the history of bias, bigotry, discrimination and oppression that has shaped our institutions, including our K-12 education system, and realize educational equity?
  • Quality: Attention to quality is essential for competency-based cultures and structures to realize their promise for students. What are the most important guiding principles or features that competency-based schools must have in place in order to deliver a high quality educational experience?
  • Meeting Students Where They Are: High-quality systems of competency-based education anchor learning in relationships. They start with an expectation that educators draw upon professional knowledge to select strategies based upon an understanding of their students as individuals, adapting as needed to personalize the learning pathway towards common high expectations. What do schools and educators need to consider in order to engage and teach students that are all at different points along the learning continuum and in different stages of their development of lifelong learning skills?
  • Policy: This section surfaces ideas that state policy needs to address in the long-term to create the conditions for a transformation to competency-based education systems designed to ensure equity so all students can be truly ready for success. We share our thinking around threshold concepts, which are core concepts that once understood are needed to transform a subject, that state policymakers might think about addressing for a long-term, sustainable shift to personalized, competency-based learning.

The information presented within this paper is a synthesis of ideas and experiences collected from hundreds of contributing experts through a collaborative process, and we invite leaders to take the information here and carry it forward to the next level.

View this archived webinar to hear report authors Susan Patrick, Chris Sturgis and Nina Lopez reflect on key ideas from the report, highlights from the National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education, and future directions for the field.