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Welcome to the CompetencyWorks Wiki (redirected from Welcome)

Page history last edited by Eliot Levine 3 years, 11 months ago


CompetencyWorks - An Initiative of the Aurora Institute


K-12 Competency-Based Education Policy and Practice Resources


This Wiki is no longer active, but the Aurora Institute is keeping

the contents available due to remaining links from other websites.




What is K-12 Competency-Based Education?


A Note on Language

Several terms are used to describe competency-based education, including performance-based, proficiency-based, and mastery-based. Competency-based or competency education is used most often in this wiki. However, we use the term used by specific states, districts, or schools when discussing their models, initiatives, and policies. The hope is that as long as a shared working definition is used to drive policy, the variations in the descriptive term will not be a barrier.


The term competency-based education used here describes a district- or school-wide structure. The term has also recently been used by vendors to describe adaptive software. We take the position that competency-based education empowers teachers to draw upon their professional knowledge in teaching and reaching every student. Drawing upon digital tools should be done appropriately based on the overall pedagogical philosophy of the school and the needs of the students.  A classroom cannot be deemed to be competency-based simply because students are learning on adaptive software or have flexible pacing.


Across our country, schools, districts and states are transitioning to competency-based education in order to align resources in schools, the community, and online around student learning.  Competency-based education is designed to help students be successful. As students get the help they need to reach proficiency on academic standards and demonstrating lifelong learning competencies, they progress upon mastery without gaps in their skills, ready for the next challenge.   


A competency-based system, as defined below, starts with the simple commitment to teaching students based on where they are in building skills and ensuring that they are being challenged as they become proficient. Competency-based approaches require alignment around five key elements.


  • Students advance upon demonstrated mastery.

  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.

  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.

  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.

  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions. 


Competency-based education isn't a classroom practice or an add-on program. Building upon state standards, it is a re-engineering of our education system around learning—a re-engineering designed for success in which failure is no longer an option. 

Competency-based education is expanding school by school, district by district as educators come to understand that the traditional time-based ways of organizing learning (schedules, A-F grades, Carnegie unit, promoting students who earn C's and D's, and the assumption that learning only takes place in the classroom) contribute to the re-construction of inequity in our public school system. Advancements in personalizing pathways and competency-based approaches in which students progress based on demonstrated mastery of skills and knowledge are opening doors to understanding the future of education.

There is a tremendous risk in considering competency-based approaches as equivalent to credit flexibility or digital learning. Simply unhooking credits from the Carnegie unit could contribute to a new mechanism for institutionalizing low expectations. Technology is a valuable tool but competency-based education requires attention to culture, structure and pedagogy. Our challenge is to design competency-based pathways so that they replace the time-based system with a set of practices that propel students toward mastery of college- and career-ready skills.

This wiki is designed to collect and share knowledge on competency-based innovations at the classroom, school, district, and state levels.  Please let us know if there are resources and information that should be added.  

Understanding K-12 Competency-Based Education


Competency-Based Schools and Districts


Designing Your Competency-Based School






Competency-Based Education in Higher Education
















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