Reaching the Tipping Point: Insights on Advancing Competency Education in New England

Chris Sturgis, CompetencyWorks, Oct 25, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This report (89 page PDF) provides an overview of competency-based education (CBE) and then drills down to look at some lessons learned in New England. CBE is motivated by three major strands of thought, according to the report: first, the current system is focused on delivery, not results, with the result that students have gaps in their learning; second, CBE ensures that students move on to the next grade level only after they have acquired the required competencies; and third, a system defined by CBE is rooted in equity and transparent process. "Rather than expecting compliance from students, competency-based schools seek to ensure students feel safe, respected, valued and empowered." You have to more than just provide opportunity; steps need to be taken to support and engage students. The report discusses the challenges of implementing a paradigm-changing program, and stresses providing support and a focus on results. The assessment of the New England experience is generally rosy.

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