This competency-based stuff sounds logical—kids should learn what they’re supposed to learn and show what they know—but tradition runs pretty deep.  Parents that want their kid to have the best shot at a good college believe grade point is everything and they want junior to have the ability to earn that A with a little extra credit.

The shift to competency rather than chronology as the foundational element of our education system is a more complicated shift than the tradition to digital.  It requires us to rethink funding, facilities, structures and staffing. Perhaps the most important barrier is the reality and perception of the college admissions racket.  That’s Why Coleman’s Move to College Board is Big.  A good set of aligned tests that allow students to demonstrate competence will help shift the focus from activity to learning.

You may think of iNACOL as the online learning folks, but they are also the leading advocates of competency-based learning.  This month they launched Competency Works to promote a dialog about how schools work when kids show what they know.

Here’s ten blogs on the subject of competency-based learning from the last 8 weeks.  You’ll note that the first three are about new school development—it’s much easier to do this with a clean slate as a new option.

Innovations High: Tour the Future of Education

When Glee Meets FIRST for Coffee and Leaves With an AA

10 Reasons Every District Should Open a Flex School

10 Elements of Competency-Based Learning

Conclusions from the Ohio Digital Learning Summit

iNACOL & Partners Launch CompetencyWorks to Further Competency Education

What Does Going Digital Mean for the Future of K–12 Assessment?

Khan’s Big Contribution Will Be Competency-Based Learning

What I’m Seeing: Show What You Know

Oklahoma Dialog on Digital Learning Now

Check out Competency Works tomorrow for a list of 10 edtech advances we need to facilitate the shift from time to learning.


  1. Competency-based credit has been around for a long time. The NOVA Project, a public liberal arts high school in Seattle, has been awarding competency-based credit for over thirty years. Students leave NOVA for competitive colleges – including Ivy League schools – every year. College admission offices are ready for transcripts without grades. They have been dealing with them for a long time and they are professionals in their field. Give them a little credit.

    • Thanks Charlie. There have been a handful of competency-based programs for two decades, but it’s been tough to scale. Digital learning (high access environments, quality content, powerful tools) makes it easier to personalize. My blog on tomorrow will outline the ten tech advances we need to make it easier to manage competency based environments.


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