Competency-Based/Personalized Learning

To learn more, please contact Elliott Asp, 720-502-47183 Big Bets

The Challenge and CEI’s Solution

Traditional educational systems divide what a student should know and be able to do upon graduation into thirteen years (K-12) of study, and students move through this curriculum in as a grade cohort – regardless of levels of mastery.  The result – less than half of Colorado students graduate “college and career ready.” Competency-based education turns the traditional model on its head. Instead of age-based cohorts of students moving forward together simply because another year has elapsed, students progress when they are able to demonstrate they have mastered clearly defined competencies—the skills, abilities, and knowledge required in an area of study.  Competency-based learning is flexible, personalized, self-paced, skill-based, technology-enabled, and builds engagement and ownership in learning for the student.  Instead of a single pathway, students can be prepared for any of the multiple options that exist after high school (vocational training, career, 4-year degree, etc.). CEI must support districts to adopt a competency-based/personalized learning model.

Why This is a Smart Bet

Colorado education policy encourages innovation. State law requires students in all districts to demonstrate proficiency at a “college and career ready” level, but provides districts with flexibility to determine the requirements for their local context. This enables districts to pursue competency-based learning.  Other states, including Maine and New Hampshire, and districts across the country have made significant shifts to competency-based systems, with compelling early results. National partners have convened leaders to create a common definition and implementation guardrails for this work.

Local and national funders and other education leaders have explicitly stated interest in competency-based/personalized learning, and recognize that improvements at scale require strategic partnerships and a systems approach, including shifting mindsets and expectations across the system; disrupting use of funds, time, and staffing; and empowering educators to tailor instruction to students’ interests, needs, and learning styles. Furthermore, transitioning to competency-based and personalized learning will improve equitable access to education and impact all five student outcomes, as the pace of learning is customized to each student.

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