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Competency Education: Pathways to 21st Century Student-Centered Learning?

Session 1
Kim Carter — Q.E.D. Foundation

There is momentum growing around competency education, with increasing numbers of states adopting or considering policy enabling graduation based on demonstration of proficiency, rather than the ability to withstand a requisite number of hours in a classroom. The working definition, developed by CompetencyWorks.org, for high quality competency-based approaches is directed toward transforming the education system. Competency education is (a five part working definition): 1. Students advance upon mastery. 2. Explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students. 3. Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. 4. Students receive rapid, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs. 5. Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge along with the development of important skills and dispositions. Mastery-based learning requires a new set of practices and policies that is riveted on student learning and personalization. There are many driving forces for advancing competency education in the K-12 system including school improvement, turnarounds, the dropout crisis, credit recovery, multiple pathways and expansions in online and blended learning. The Common Core State Standards is also creating a unique opportunity to introduce performance-based approaches. We’ll begin by highlighting trends and emerging issues and discussing recent research from two new briefing papers on competency education: designing competencies and supporting students and staff in competency education, followed by roundtable discussions asking participants to share and highlight examples from their work, and brainstorm opportunities for influencing the field and the growing national conversation.

Conversational Practice

The session will begin with a Chalk Talk, capturing participants’ understandings, questions, and perspectives on competency education. Following an interactive overview of the developing field of competency education, participants will participate in roundtable discussions, selecting one of the five parts of the working definition for a focus. Each roundtable group will discuss how that aspect of the working definition connects to their current work as well as to their vision for 21st Century learning, highlighting promising practices, surfacing challenges, and identifying ways in which they would like to influence the national conversation.

Conversation Links

Presenter Profiles

Kim Carter
Kim Carter
QED Foundation


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