Competency-Based Learning

We are often afraid of the logistical implications of personalized learning, in particular when it comes to learning pace! Let’s take a deeper look at what Competency-Based Learning is and how it could be implemented.

5 principles of personalized learning:

Pln Wheel New 01

Source (Centre for Collaborative Education)

A CBE combines Personalized Learning with the accountability that is required in the world we live in.

All students are progressing in a CBE by demonstrating proficiency.

What are competencies?

Competencies are targets for student learning, representing key concepts and skills applied within or across content domains. Competencies enable flexibility by providing multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery. (source: Centre for Collaborative Education.)

Learning is non linear (not necessary a sequence) and students choose their pathways and pace and demonstrate their competencies when they are ready.

Competencies do not indicate content, they are broader. They allow for more personalization and multiple means of assessments.

Key considerations

  1. Students progress upon demonstration of proficiency (not by grade level but by a basic unit of progress)
  2. Aligned competencies (competency –> instruction –> student direction –> rubric –> student work)
  3. Competency-Based Reporting (not averaging because it doesn’t tell us the story)
  4. Competencies vs. standards (competencies are all about student-driven learning, learning progression and pacing and deep mastery)
  5. Scaffolding and student support (equity in reaching out to ALL students and equity in pacing)

source: Centre for Collaborative Education.

5 steps to implement CBE equitably

  1. Rigorous competencies are developed
  2. Fair and reliable assessments (diversity and not only standardized tests that might be biased)
  3. Adequate student support (scaffolded tools, differentiation etc)
  4. Multiple pathways (students should be able to prove their proficiency by multiple ways)
  5. Open to all students (not just a few, it’s a new culture of transparency and equity, not a stigma!)

source: Centre for Collaborative Education.

Pacing concerns

Providing the right pace for each student can be daunting. How might we ensure all our students are progressing when some are going fast and others slow? Some thoughts…

We might encounter learning gaps and therefore, some of the ways to ensure we bridge gaps can be with periodic breaks (where students embark on other projects), catch up models (with individualised plans and possibly flipping the classroom etc.), flex blocks (can help students in both ends of the spectrum).

We also have to ensure supportive structures: high expectations, scaffold and support, online tools…