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Competency-Based Education (CBE)

Definition 

This approach to education is grounded in 5 key design principles: 1. Students advance upon achieving a pre-determined level of mastery. 2. Explicit and measurable competencies empower students. 3. Assessment is meaningful, and a positive learning experience for students. 4. Students receive timely, rapid, differentiated support. 5. Learning outcomes emphasize the creation and application of knowledge and skills. Mastery Learning is a term often used interchangeably with Competency-Based Education and Proficiency-Based Education.

Features 

  • Mastery Learning

Designer's Tips 

This collection of resources will provide you with a strong foundation for understanding Mastery-Learning. The Infographic and Roadmap to Mastery Learning provide overviews of the key features of a fully-implemented Mastery-Learning System. The Self-Assessment may help you gain a sense of your strengths and learning areas as you move into this work. You will also find definitions, portraits, and a link to CompetencyWorks, which documents much of the work going on in the field. (This term is typically used interchangeably with Mastery-Learning and Proficiency-Based Education (PBE), though CBE is currently used most frequently).

Tips for a Short Implementation Time-Line 

Create a system that is aligned with all 5 of the Design Principles, but for #2 and #5, either adopt exitsing competencies such as Asia Society's, or use standards as the learning outcomes, rather than competencies. Over time, competencies can be layered in.

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. 

SFF's Mastery Structure

Description 

There are many structures for students to demonstrate and progress through mastery-based programs. Schools for the Future has established four performance levels that reach down to middle school and extend into college and career. See the types of evidence that SFF requires of its students to move from one level to the next.

Authors 

Nora Priest, Antonia Rudenstine, & Ephraim Weisstein

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

Schools for the Future

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

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

What is Competency-based Education?

Description 

This is CompetencyWorks' published definition of competency, which remains the working definition in the field. Competencies are the organizing frame for learning; students advance on mastery; assessment is meaningful; students receive timely, differentiated supports; and learning outcomes emphasize the highest levels of thinking.

Authors 

Chris Sturgis

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

CompetencyWorks

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Two sides of the Common Core: CBE and Student Learning Objectives

Description 

This article explores the relationship between competencies and student learning objectives. It concludes that they are related but not the same. Recommendations include that 1) required competencies reflect a small set of the most critical ideas of a discipline (or across disciplines), 2) the student learning objective (SLO) system is designed so teachers are expected to be evaluated on multiple SLOs, and 3) there is a stronger overlap among the SLO learning goals and the required competencies.

Authors 

Scott Marion

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

CompetencyWorks

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Learning Outcomes
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)
Learning Objective

An International Study in Competency Education: Postcards from Abroad

Description 

This study reviews and compares the state of competency-based education in eight countries around the world. Those interested in how other countries are pursuing education improvement, including aspects of Mastery Learning, will want to read the case studies of Finland, British Columbia, New Zealand, and Scotland.

Authors 

Sara Frank Bristow & Susan Patrick

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

CompetencyWorks

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Competency-Based Learning: Definitions, Policies, and Implementation

Description 

This research study focuses on how states and districts define competency-based education and the challenges in implementing such an approach. The study is potentially most helpful for policy-makers in New England.

Authors 

Aubrey Scheopner Torres

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

Regional Educational Laboratory at EDC

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

CompetencyWorks Wiki

Description 

There is a lot of practical information on this Wiki including case studies of districts and schools doing CBE as well as specific tools such as schedules

Authors 

Chris Sturgis

Resource Type 

  • Website

Publishing Organization 

CompetencyWorks

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Making Mastery Accessible: Features of a Mastery Learning System_Infographic

Description 

Infographic: Designing a mastery learning system is incredibly complex work, partly because of the broad and deep expertise required and partly because of the interdependent nature of the various aspect of the system. This infographic displays the components of a mature system, while also highlighting some of the key interactions between various elements of the system. Check out reDesign's Roadmap to Implementing a Mastery System, which organizes these features in a recommended sequence, with accompanying designer's tips.

Authors 

Antonia Rudenstine

Resource Type 

  • Infographic

Publishing Organization 

reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • reDesign

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Inside Mastery Based High Schools: Profiles & Conversations

Description 

This report features in-depth case studies of five schools which are using some or all of the Carnegie Corporation's 10 school design principles. Especially useful are the insights into implementation found in the written transcripts of interviews with school leaders.

Authors 

Melissa Giraud

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

Springpoint: Partners in School Design

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Making Mastery Accessible--21st Century Learning Slideshow

Description 

There is considerable overlap between mastery learning systems, personalized learning, and blended learning. This slideshow explores the intersections, providing examples of practices in districts and schools. The working theory presented is that mastery learning systems are in service of personalization, and blended learning is one of the key strategies to support mastery learning. 

Authors 

Antonia Rudenstine

Resource Type 

  • Presentation

Publishing Organization 

reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • reDesign

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Making Mastery Accessible: Roadmap for Implementing Mastery Learning

Description 

Where to begin and how to proceed? Those seeking to design and implement mastery learning systems are asking these questions. The Roadmap provides a bird's eye view of our recommended design and implementation sequence for establishing a comprehensive mastery learning system. 

Authors 

Antonia Rudenstine

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • reDesign

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Making Mastery Accessible--Self-Assessment to Determine Readiness

Description 

One of the challenges of creating a mastery learning system is the range and depth of expertise that is required to create a coherent model. As you begin design work, this self-assessment can provide you with insight regarding your strengths and capacities, as well as gaps in your knowledgebase. Our hope is that this will help you think strategically about the expertise you need to add to your team. 

Authors 

Antonia Rudenstine

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • reDesign

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Making Mastery Work

Description 

A few years ago, Nellie Mae Education Foundation commissioned reDesign to research the state of play of mastery learning in New England schools. The result was "Making Mastery Work," which documents the work of several early-adopter schools and networks. The report was the precursor to our "Making Mastery Accessible" project, which relies on many of the learnings documented here to develop a set of Design Guides and Tools to support current-day designers. 

Authors 

Nora Priest, Antonia Rudenstine, Ephraim Weisstein

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Type of Organization 

  • Foundation or Grantor

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Moving towards Next Gen Learning

Description 

This blog post presents a broad-brush description of Next Gen Learning, defined as pushing the boundaries of time, pace, place, and path. Next Gen places competency-based education, blended learning, and personalization at the center.

Authors 

Andy Calkins

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

Next Generation Learning

Type of Organization 

  • Foundation or Grantor

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success

Description 

This report discusses the challenges to and opportunities for secondary schools inherent in the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. It examines how Carnegie's 10 high school design principles can help schools meet the demands of the new standards.

Authors 

Leah Hamilton, Ann Mackinnon

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

Carnegie Corporation

Type of Organization 

  • Foundation or Grantor

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

Summer Reading: What does Competency Education Look Like?

Description 

This blog post identifies a number of blog posts on CompetencyWorks that detail a range of elements of competency-based learning. Lindsey Unified District and Chucach are both profiled, alongside Pittsfield and Sanborn, exmphasizing the personalized nature of the programs, with student ownership driving the transformation of these districts .Individual school models are also identified.

Authors 

Chris Sturgis

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

CompetencyWorks

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

When Failure is not an Option

Description 

This is the original primer on competency-based education, published in 2010. So much has changed in the field in the half decade since this was published, but this is the seminal first document. Check it out to get a sense of how far we've come!

Authors 

Chris Sturgis, Susan Patrick

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

iNACOL

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)

iNACOL: Blended Learning Teacher Competency Framework

Description 

This handbook describes the teacher competencies necessary to succeed in a blended learning environment, organizing them into mindsets, qualities, adaptive skills, and technical skills.

Authors 

Allison Powell, Beth Rabbitt, Kathryn Kennedy

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

iNACOL

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)
Blended Learning

Mean What you Say: Defining and Integrating Personlaized, Blended and Competency Education

Description 

Those stuggling to keep pace with the rapidly evolving field of personalization will find this report helpful, as the authors seek to clarify and integrate the core ideas of personalized learning, blended learning, competency education, and standards. Designers of mastery learning systmes will find the included 12 Elements for Designing Instruction & Curriculum to Support Children's Learning useful as well.

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

iNACOL

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Mastery Learning
Proficiency-Based Education (PBE)
Blended Learning
Personalized Learning Plan

Great Schools Partnership: Selecting an On-Line Grading & Reporting System: Rubric to guide decision-making

Description 

This Great Schools Partnership-designed tool provides a helpful list of questions to ask when comparing and evaluating online grading and reporting systems for use in a mastery learning school. It can assist educators in identifying and prioritizing features, since no single system is likely to be a perfect solution.

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

Great Schools Partnership

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Grade Conversion
Grade Reports
Performance-Based Grading
Rating System
Scoring Rubrics
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Grading & Reporting System