Competency-Based Education (C-BE)

How can assessment literate practice support a Competency-Based Education model?

It takes skilled assessment practitioners to implement Competency-Based Education well. Teachers and students need just-in-time information for each individual student to know where they are in their learning, and where they are ready to grow. This calls for skilled use of performance assessment and of the formative assessment process, which includes such elements as self-assessment, peer assessment, and instructive teacher feedback. Educators also will need to think differently about grading student learning and advancing them along their learning pathway.

Researcher Kathrine Casey points to four assessment literacy capabilities educators need to be successful in C-BE environments:

  1. Design and/or use formative assessment as and for learning;
  2. Design and/or use reliable performance based and summative assessments;
  3. Utilize multiple measures (aligned to expanded definition of student success) to support continuous improvement and to
    adjust instruction; and
  4. Promote learner voice and choice in selecting forms of assessment and demonstration.

What do we mean by "competency-based education (C-BE)?"

Competency-Based Education (C-BE) is a form of personalized learning that supports all students in achieving deep understanding and application of high academic expectations and personal success goals. Education leaders from across the Michigan (and the nation) endorse these primary components as a working definition of Competency-Based Education:

  • Students are empowered daily to make important decisions about their learning experiences, how they will create and apply knowledge, and how they will demonstrate their learning.
  • Assessment is a meaningful, positive, and empowering learning experience for students that yields timely, relevant, and actionable evidence.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Students progress based on evidence of mastery, not seat time.
  • Students learn actively using different pathways and varied pacing.
  • Strategies to ensure equity for all students are embedded in the culture, structure, and pedagogy of schools and education systems.
  • Rigorous, common expectations for learning (knowledge, skills, and dispositions) are explicit, transparent, measurable, and transferable.

Performance Assessment – What is it and why is it useful?

Performance assessment is defined, and its use described, in this Learning Point.

The Power of Assessment for Learning: Twenty Years of Research and Practice in UK and US Classrooms (1st Edition) by Christine Ann Harrison & Margaret Heritage

Harrison, C. A., & Heritage, M. (2019). The Power of Assessment for Learning: 20 years of research and practice in UK and US schools. Sage Publications.

What do we mean by formative assessment?

Formative assessment, as defined in the Michigan FAME program, is described in this Learning Point.

What institutional changes would promote competency-based education models?

Performance assessments, the formative assessment process, and student-centered classrooms all contribute to the success of competency-based education (CBE) models of classroom instruction. But classrooms function within institutions. This ThinkPoint explores the institutionalized practices that will have to be overturned for the principles of competency-based education to become reality in classrooms.

What is collaborative scoring? Why can it be so valuable?

This Learning Point outlines how collaborative scoring is a means to assuring that student work is judged reliably and the training and act can be valuable professional learning and support more use of performance assessment.

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