Competencies

Definition 

Statements that describe the combination of skills, knowledge, characteristics, aptitudes, and traits which contribute to high performance. A competency is something one can do often, in many situations, and with strong results.

Features 

  • Competencies

Designer's Tips 

"One helpful approach to defining competencies is to settle on a simple taxonomic structure. For example, a competency is a ""grouping of skills and knowledge."" With this structure, each competency would have its own title (e.g. ""Reading Literature"") or competency statement (e.g. ""Read literary texts independently and proficiently), and then nested beneath it would be the specific, measurable skills by which a learner's performance can be evaluated (e.g. ""Identify the main idea"" and ""Analyze the developments of the text"").

In our review of models in the field, It is often the nested ""skills"" that are derived from learning standards. Because not all academic standards are equal in terms of their level of granularity, sometimes a single standard represents one measurable skill (often the case with Common Core ELA standards) of a competency, while sometimes a single standard needs to be broken up into several ""skills"" (the case with many Common Core Math standards).

Remember that the key to competencies is that they require students to have mastered standards at a deep enough level that they can apply their learning to challenging performance tasks.

Explore our featured Designer's Guide--""Competency Adoption Guide""--to support your work in adopting, adapting or creating competencies that are aligned to your mission and vision."

Tips for a Short Implementation Time-Line 

It takes years to design a fully-developed system, and the technology doesn't support it yet. We recommend that designers on a short timeline begin by a) adopting or adapting competencies from another system (such as Asia Society or Schools for the Future), and/or b) select a small set of competencies (such as literacy competencies derived from Common Core) to start with, and then broaden and deepen the competencies over time.

Curated Resources: This collection of resources from the field includes models and exemplars, as well as “DIY” guidance to facilitate your exploration of this term. 

Art & Science of Designing Competencies

Description 

In this issue brief from CompetencyWorks, innovators in competency education offer guidance for designing competencies, including clearly defining them, assessing them, and involving others in the work of creating them.

Authors 

Chris Sturgis

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

CompetencyWorks

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competencies
Performance Outcomes
Learning Expectations

Asia Society Global Leadership Performance Outcomes, I Can Statements, Rubrics

Description 

This exemplar comptency documents linked here, developed by the Asia Socienty, focuses on Global Leadership. Included are rationales, "I can" statements, performance outcomes, and rubrics for students in grades 5, 8, 10, and 12. Designers will find these models helpful for their own work developing competencies and supporting documents.

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

Asia Society

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competencies
Performance Outcomes
Learning Expectations
I Can Statements
Performance Indicators
Rating System
Scoring Rubrics

Big Picture Learning Competency Wheel

Description 

This is a set of transdisciplinary competencies developed by Big Picture Learning. They include Career Skills, Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving, Communication, Information, Media, and Technology Skills, and Life Skills. See NMEF's "Making Mastery Work" for a profile of BPL's practice and approach.

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

Big Picture Learning

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Competencies
Performance Outcomes
Learning Expectations

EPIC Competency Flip Book

Description 

This is a set of 17 transdisciplinary competencies and 65 accompanying "attainments" (evidence that students have achieved mastery). Examples include: Write Effectively; Think Critically and Design Solutions; Synthesize Systems and Processes; Connect to the Environment.

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

NYC Department of Education

Type of Organization 

  • School or District

Terms 

Competencies
I Can Statements

Summit Public Schools Cognitive Skills Rubric

Description 

Summit took the path of identifying cognitive and noncognitive skills which operate as competencies. They have seven for text-based work: Textual Analysis, Using Sources, Inquiry, Analysis and Synthesis, Composing/Writing, Speaking Listening, Products and Presentations.

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

Summit Public Schools

Type of Organization 

  • Intermediary or Management Organization
  • Government Organization

Terms 

Competencies

Summit Public Schools Habits of Success Continuum

Description 

Summit's Habit of Success Continuum is intentionally not described as a rubric. They have identified three overarching categories, each with three or four subcategories: Self-Awareness & Self-Management, Social Awareness and Interpersonal, Decision-Making, and Responsible Behavior.

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

Summit Public Schools

Type of Organization 

  • Intermediary or Management Organization
  • Government Organization

Terms 

Competencies

School District of Philadelphia Competency Toolkit

Description 

The School District of Philadelphia's created this Toolkit to support their comptency-based education efforts. It features resources and tools designed around its six essentials for mastery learning: Learning Targets, Scoring Rubrics, Performance-Based Assessments, Promotion Policy, Transparent Data Display, and Personalized Learning Experiences.

Authors 

Sydney Schaef

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

School District of Philadelphia

Type of Organization 

  • School or District

Terms 

Graduation Plan
Promotion Plan
Competencies
Rating System
Scoring Rubrics
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)
Grading & Reporting System

Is a Standard a Competency: part 1

Description 

In this brief blog post, Rose Colby explains why a standard is not a competency and the importance of understanding the distinction.

Authors 

Rose Colby

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

CompetencyWorks

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Competencies
Performance Outcomes
Learning Expectations
Standards

Value Rubric Development Project

Description 

This is a set of 16 rubrics developed by the Association of American Colleges & Universities. They include Critical Thinking, Analysis and Inquiry, Creative Thinking, and Problem Solving. These are very strong rubrics that clearly identify the ways of thinking that are required for success in liberal arts colleges. They can be a strong starting point for schools looking to develop competencies and learning outcomes that are college- and career-aligned.

Resource Type 

  • Website

Publishing Organization 

Association of American Colleges and Universities

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competencies
Performance Outcomes
Learning Expectations
Learning Outcomes
Performance Indicators
Rating System

Is your team identifying essential learning targets?

Description 

Bill Ferrier discusses the importance and the challenge of writing effective learning targets for students. The blog post also provides some models and helpful tools to support learning target development.

Authors 

Bill Ferriter

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

The Tempered Radical

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Competencies
I Can Statements
Performance Indicators
Learning Targets

SFF Competencies

Description 

This document lists Schools for the Future's six transdisciplinary competencies: Make Meaning, Think, Investigate, Create and Design, Communicate, Manage Myself, and Collaborate and Lead. The competencies are unique in that each is applied to five facets of the learning experience: Knowledge and Expertise, Tools, Strategies, Systems, and Reflection.

Authors 

Jon Altbergs

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Competencies

Next Generation Science Standards

Description 

Here the Next Generation Science Standards, developed under the leadership of the National Research Coucil (NRC) and the American Associaton for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), can be viewed in three ways: by discipline core idea, topic arrangement, or performance expectation.

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

National Research Council, Achieve

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Competencies
Learning Outcomes

Framework for 21st Centruy Learning

Description 

Instructional Leaders looking to develop competencies will find helpful this two-page overview of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills approach to Learning Outcomes and Skills. The P21 model integrates cross-cutting and content-specific competencies into an over-arching framework that allows stakeholders to easily see how they are interdependent.

Resource Type 

  • Document

Publishing Organization 

P21

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Competencies
Learning Outcomes

NH DOE Grade Level Expectations

Description 

The New Hampshire DOE, Rhode Island DOE, and Vermont DOE have developed a common set of grade-level expectations, known as the New England Common Assessment Program Grade-Level Expectations (NECAP GLEs), and test specifications in mathematics, reading, and writing. Between the NECAP GLEs and the Common Core Grade Level Expectations articulated by PARCC, designers at the beginning of this work may find it's more efficient to adopt and adapt, than it is to invent a new wheel!

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

New Hampshire Department of Education

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization

Terms 

Performance-Level Descriptors
Performance-Level Indicators
Competencies
Learning Expectations
Learning Objective

Making Mastery Accessible--Competency Adoption Guide

Description 

Competencies are the foundation of a mastery learning system, helping all members of a learning community understand the skills, knowledge and capacities that will lead to strong performance.This design guide describes a four-step process to support the development of sound college- and career-aligned competencies: Plan, Goal Definition, Source & Review, and Adapt & Iterate. Readers will also find profiles of the competencies developed and used by the School District of Philadelphia and NYC's Bronx Arena High School.

Authors 

Antonia Rudenstine

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • reDesign

Terms 

Competencies
Learning Expectations
Performance Outcomes