For many state education leaders looking to recoup learning losses caused by interruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, a competency-based approach is attractive. It provides the flexibility and autonomy for students to earn credits and satisfy diploma requirements by demonstrating mastery of competencies, rather than fulfilling seat time requirements. However, a competency-based approach requires fundamental changes to how learning is currently measured in public schools.
ECS recently released “Policy Solutions that Foster Competency-Based Learning.” This Policy Brief offers three high-impact policy solutions to help states design new learning environments that support students in their transition from high school to postsecondary: creating a profile of a graduate, establishing statewide competencies, and credentialing anytime, anywhere learning.
Suggested policy actions include the following:
- Engage with a diverse set of stakeholders to create a vision for student success that ensures learning is personalized, students can advance upon mastery, and students are empowered to take ownership of their learning. The vision should also include the knowledge, skills, and social and emotional competencies that students need for success in postsecondary and career.
- Align programs, resources, roles, and initiatives to the profile of a graduate to ensure that every student can benefit from high-quality learning environments that align to the state’s vision for success.
- Create a set of competencies that align to the state’s profile of a graduate and encompass the full range of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students need in order to be prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce.
- Leverage the state’s competencies to create grade bands and competency-based pathways that enable students to advance or receive remedial supports as needed while progressing toward college and career readiness. Explore improvements to the state’s graduation requirements, accountability, and reporting policies to ensure alignment.
Anytime, Anywhere Learning
- Set or encourage graduation requirements allowing the development of portfolios and capstones rather than end-of-course or college entrance exams so students have rich resources to use in the college admissions process.
- Explore funding approaches that enable students in personalized, competency-based environments to count as full-time equivalents to ensure sufficient funding.