Competency-Based Learning

Create personalized learning paths that allow students to progress toward goals and demonstrate competency in flexible formats

About Competency-Based Learning

Topics:

  • Grading for Equity
  • Student Goal Setting and Autonomy

Overview:

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.

Featured Strategies

In a self-paced or mastery based learning environment, building a mastery map and a network of student experts can help
In a self-paced or mastery based learning environment, building a mastery map and a network of student experts can help
A pre-assessment is the foundation of a Mastery-Based Progression as it allows students and teacher to focus on what is most needed
A pre-assessment is the foundation of a Mastery-Based Progression as it allows students and teacher to focus on what is most needed
A Mastery-Based Progression unleashes students to work at their own pace so creating and monitoring a simple pacing calendar can help
A Mastery-Based Progression unleashes students to work at their own pace so creating and monitoring a simple pacing calendar can help

Growth Areas

BetterLesson growth areas are targeted goals for growth in a learning domain through BetterLesson Coaching. Learn more about BetterLesson Coaching.
I can design an equitable competency based grading model in order to allow students to demonstrate their mastery in a variety of ways.
I can support student goal setting in order to build autonomy and drive accountability, confidence, and academic and personal growth.

Additional Reading

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External Resources: 

How BetterLesson Can Help

We provide personalized, continuous support to help teachers and instructional leaders make growth towards their professional goals.
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