Competency Based Education: Transforming learning from a time-based to a learning-based model

Sanborn High School

At its core, competency based education (CBE) is a model that transforms learning from a structured, one-size-fits-all teaching model to a personalized, flexible learning model that focuses on mastery and application of concepts and skills and accounts for various learning styles and needs. In New Hampshire, several districts are converting to CBE, with Sanborn Regional High School being a local and national model for a fully implemented CBE model. CompetencyWorks, a collaborative initiative dedicated to innovative advances in education, provides a working definition of CBE broken down into five principles:

  1. Students advance upon demonstrated mastery: Students work at levels that are appropriately challenging and advance to higher-level work based on mastery of content, not age.
  2. Students are given explicit and measurable learning objectives: Clear, concise learning objectives are presented to students, allowing them to assume responsibility in their learning (and therefore encouraging engagement and motivation).
  3. Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students: Traditional assessments are replaced with assessments that are aligned with learning objectives, and focus on student learning and mastery of skills and concepts rather than benchmarks or grades.
  4. Students receive rapid, differentiated support: Students and teachers work closely to develop plans to master competencies that take into account the individual student’s learning style and needs, and teachers provide appropriate interventions when students begin to have difficulty with material, rather than waiting for tests or using a “one size fits all” model.
  5. Learning outcomes emphasize application and creation of knowledge: Rather than rote memorization, core competencies in CBE require the student to apply skills and knowledge to demonstrate mastery.

Read more about competency based education here.