In traditional classrooms, students follow a set, predetermined 13-year instructional plan in which all students are expected to fit into a common learning mold and demonstrate their competency in the same manner and at the same time as their peers. In competency-based learning, however, students work toward learning goals along phases of mastery that represent stages in in their own skill development. As they progress, students participate in instructional activities that are appropriate given their current understanding. Students receive data-based interventions and support along all steps of the learning progression to address any difficulty they may be having. And finally, they reflect on their own progression to mastery and use that reflection to inform their own future learning. Thus, competency-based classrooms allow for a flexible, varied approach to learning in which students can demonstrate their understanding at different times and often in different ways. Competency-based progressions use state-mandated content standards broken down by grade level as an end goal, but the process and the timing for each student to demonstrate competency of that standard varies from student to student.
What We Believe:
We believe that in order to thrive in today's world, students need to be flexible, critical thinkers, able to understand what is being asked of them and use the tools available to them to solve problems both independently and collaboratively.
We believe that teachers must become the facilitators of student learning, allowing students to develop the necessary skills, habits, and learning practices to ensure success both in the classroom and beyond.
We believe that teachers need to equip students to be able to explain not only what they need to master but also what mastery looks like.
We believe that students must participate in instructional activities that are appropriate given their current understanding and progress towards mastery of a learning goal that the students are able to articulate, explain the steps they will take to reach, and reflect on to inform their future learning.
We believe that teachers must use formative assessments to determine where each student is in their progress toward mastery of concepts or skills, and use that knowledge to help determine the best next steps and instructional decisions to move each student toward the learning goal.
We believe that teachers must use student performance data to provide data-based interventions and supports, and to help students find resources to guide their learning.
BetterLesson Blog Posts:
Bertrand, Romain. Making the Creation of Mastery-Based Progressions Achievable. October 9, 2018.
Mathewson, Tara Garcia. Future of Learning: A fourth-grade teacher shows what “mastery-based” looks like in her classroom. August 28, 2018.
Naeleigh, Molly. The Building Blocks of A Mastery Based Learning System (Part 2). August 21, 2018.
Naeleigh Molly. The Building Blocks of A Mastery Based Learning System (Part 1). August 14, 2018.
Naeleigh, Molly. Students’ Drive Their Learning: What Is A Mastery Based Learning System? July 31, 2018.
Lazareva, Milana & Bertrand, Romain. Fill the Gaps: From an Idea to a Personalized Learning Strategy. May 22, 2018.
Achieve. "The Role of Learning Progressions in Competency-Based Pathways." 2015.
Briggs, Derek C. et al. "Using a Learning Progression Framework to Assess and Evaluate Student Growth." Center for Assessment Design Research and Evaluation. 2015.
CompetencyWorks. "What is Competency Education?" International Association for K-12 Online Learning. 2014.
Corcoran, Tom et al. "Learning Progressions in Science: An Evidence-based Approach to Reform." Consortium for Policy Research in Education: Center on Continuous Instructional Improvement. 2009.
Heritage, Margaret. "Learning Progressions: Supporting Instruction and Formative Assessment." National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. 2008.
Hess, Karin. "Developing and Using Progressions as a Schema for Measuring Progress." National Center for Assessment. 2008.
Indiana Department of Education. "Learning Progression Guided by Formative Assessment: Self-Reflective Rubric."
Rand Education. 'Competency-Based Education."
Sturgis, Chris and Patrick Susan. "When Success Is the Only Option: Designing Competency-Based Pathways for Next Generation Learning." Nellie Mae
Education Foundation. 2010.
Walton, Janice and Ryerse, Mary. "Competency-Based Education: Definitions and Difference Makers." GettingSmart. 2017.