NH leads the way, but competency-based ed is catching on in other states

New Hampshire started its move toward competency-based education over 10 years ago.  Most recently, school districts who choose to do it have participated in the Performance Assessment in Competency Education (PACE) pilot program.  But other states are following suit, reported Ed Week.

Idaho, Georgia, and Ohio are putting competency at the center of education rather than seat time, where students progress from each concept, course, or grade not by the amount of time spent on it, but by whether they can demonstrate they fully grasp and comprehend the task at hand.  The implementation plans look very different, but Ed Week noted that it’s one of the benefits of competency based education:

One of the characteristics of CBE is the amount of flexibility allowed for local design and it can vary widely in approach and appearance. This is good. It should look different in a 200-student rural high school versus an urban 2,000-student high school. However, the components or characteristics of a CBE program or system are well documented and can be articulated in the application request.

Flexibility is one of the reasons the model has worked so well in New Hampshire, where residents value local control. The other three states have also taken different approaches: Idaho has “incubators,” or school districts that are leading the way–similar to New Hampshire’s pilot sites. Incubator schools are forming a professional learning community to share best practices, data, and lessons. Ohio is awarding five grants to implement competency based education programs tailored for their schools, and Georgia gives districts statutory and regulatory flexibility while providing them with innovation funds to personalize their education systems.

States are finding that competency based education allows for a more student-centered model, where students are given more time and support in areas they find more difficult, while allowing them to accelerate through concepts they’ve mastered. Idaho’s Director of Mastery Education Kelly Brady outlined many of the benefits of competency based education:

  • Allows students to have more ownership and autonomy of their learning.
  • Provides flexibility in both student pace and path.
  • Connects student interest and passions to their education.
  • Empowers students in new and meaningful ways.
  • Develops critical thinkers and problem solvers, beyond just memorizers of information.
  • Allows for more personalized and differentiated learning.
  • Gives teachers new roles as facilitators of learning, rather than dispensers of knowledge.
  • Emphasizes social-emotional learning and growth mindsets for all students.
  • Makes assessment more meaningful since it is on-going and formative in nature.
  • Creates opportunities to form better relationships with students and their families.


Read the full article here.