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ERIC Number: ED514435
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 42
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
When Failure Is Not An Option: Designing Competency-Based Pathways for Next Generation Learning
Sturgis, Chris; Patrick, Susan
International Association for K-12 Online Learning
This exploration into competency-based innovation at the school, district, and state levels suggests that competency-based pathways are a re-engineering of this nation's education system around learning--a re-engineering designed for success in which failure is no longer an option. Competency-based approaches build upon standards reforms, offering a new value proposition for the education system. Frequently, competency-based policy is described as simply flexibility in awarding credit or defined as an alternative to the Carnegie unit. Yet, this does not capture the depth of the transformation of the education system from a time-based system to a learning-based system. Competency-based approaches are being used at all ages from elementary school to graduate school level, focusing the attention of teachers, students, parents, and the broader community on students mastering measurable learning topics. This discussion draws on interviews and site visits with innovators and the limited literature that has been developed on the topic of competency-based approaches. The first section introduces a working definition for competency-based pathways that hopefully will be the beginning of creating consensus on the characteristics of a high-quality approach to guide policy. The second section explores the driving forces behind competency-based innovations and implementation issues. The last section highlights a number of challenges facing states and districts as they explore competency-based approaches. This paper has been designed to generate a deeper understanding, as it is critically important that competency-based pathways be implemented effectively with a vigilant focus on student learning. Appendices include: (1) Descriptions of Innovators; (2) Resources; and (3) Interviews. (Contains 23 endnotes and 14 resources.)
International Association for K-12 Online Learning. 1934 Old Gallows Road Suite 350, Vienna, VA 22182. Tel: 888-956-2265; Tel: 703-752-6216; Fax: 703-752-6201; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Nellie Mae Education Foundation
Authoring Institution: International Association for K-12 Online Learning