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Art and Science of Designing Competencies

Page history last edited by nslocum@aurora-institute.org 5 years, 8 months ago


See the paper Art and Science of Designing Competencies for a full discussion. The materials here are resources referenced in or related to the paper. If you are new to competency education, please review the working definition before this section. (Please note: This page was developed in 2012 and has not been updated.)

1) What is a competency? 
Competencies are the knowledge, skills, and/or behaviors students must master in a specific content or performance area -
 Kim Carter, Q.E.D. Foundation


2) What makes a well-designed competency? (See Kim Carter's presentation from VSS attached)

  • A competency describes knowledge and skills that can be applied to novel, complex situations.
  • The skills described in a competency will be valuable ten years from now even if the content knowledge has changed.
  • Learning objectives are accompanied by clear performance criteria that help students identify their performance level(s) and what they need to do to improve.
  • Learning objectives are accompanied by effective rubrics that help students understand themselves better as learners.
  • The competency and the learning objectives allow for personalization and opportunities for deeper learning.


Below are links to examples of competencies and learning objectives. States, districts and schools are exploring a variety of way of designing competency frameworks that include levels of knowledge, learning targets and rubrics. There has not been an analysis of the different ways of organizing competency frameworks or the implications of the different way they are being designed.

3) What can we do to prepare for designing competencies?

A. Essentials of the Discipline (other resources on this that talks about essentials for math, science, ELA, etc)

B. Rooted in the Condition of Industry

C. Knowledge Frameworks

D. Habits of Work/Lifelong Learning Competencies   

E. Learning Progressions

4) What process should be used to design competencies?

A. Getting Started

B. Using an Interdisciplinary Approach

  • If you are interested in interdisciplinary learning,  Kim Carter recommends Heidi Hayes Jacobs’s “Interdisciplinary Curriculum” for further exploration of this topic.

C. Professional Development

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