Who’s Leading the Way?

A Promising Competency-based Model for Historically Marginalized Students

Competency-based education models are complicated organisms, and staging their development and growth is generally a multi-year task, whether one is a launching a new school or re-envisioning an existing program. As the world of CBE picks up momentum our team at reDesign is continually asking ourselves, “Who’s Leading the Way in Serving Historically Marginalized Young People?” In preparation for #iNACOL16 we documented some of our learning in a Prezi (pictured above, and linked in our slide deck). We will continue to add to it over the course of this year, so please let us know about the models you think of when you ask yourself the same question.

What makes a model a “CBE Leader”?

At reDesign, when we look at CBE models, we look through the lens of our Mastery Learning Roadmap (inset, 2015), which identifies over 60 CBE elements that are present in fully-implemented models. While our Roadmap provides a loose sequence for these elements, we’ve seen schools move through the work from a number of different starting points.

Knowing that there is much we haven’t seen, and that programs are continually iterating on their models, we remain incredibly inspired by the creative and successful efforts of Bronx Arena High School in New York City, where ALL of the elements of CBE are currently present. At Arena, 65% of the graduating class enrolls in college, and 82% of enrollees persist beyond the freshman year. In NYC, these numbers are outstanding. But, Arena is all the more impressive because it exclusively serves over-age students who have faced repeated school failure and are now extremely close to aging-out of the system without coming close to meeting graduation requirements.

Hear from the Students


Antonia is the Director of reDesgin, LLC, an educational design shop committed to developing skills, understanding, projects, and products that increase the chances that historically marginalized students can thrive as learners, creators, contributors, and doers. Antonia currently thinks and writes about the design of strong competency-based learning systems, the need for white allies to support the radical diversification of the education sector, new models for curriculum development, and the opportunities and challenges of meaningful adult development in schools.

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