Executive Summary

We believe the successful implementation of competency-based education systems can be described in three phases:

  • first, an exploration and discovery phase, when leaders and small teams take time to read, discuss and ask several questions;
  • followed by the design phase, when questions specify and clarify problems, when solutions posit brief statements and teams try out ideas on a small scale;
  • and finally the launch phase, when you form detailed plans, execute them and build feedback loops to reflect and improve over time.

This guide synthesizes and borrows heavily from three distinct processes to inform the adoption of competency-based education (CBE) systems.  

  • The Stanford d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford) has published a document called, “The Bootcamp Bootleg” (Stanford, 2013) that outlines a framework and sequence for what they describe as a human-centered design process.
  • Chris Sturgis of CompetencyWorks has written an 80-page guide on implementing CBE systems called, “Implementing Competency Education in K-12 Systems: Insights from Local Leaders,” (Sturgis, 2015). Sturgis takes five-years of visits and interviews of education leaders and combines them into advice on the adoption of CBE.
  • Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker of the Clay Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation wrote an entire book on the adoption of student-centered education entitled Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools (Horn & Staker, 2015). Filled with links to videos and examples, it can be used as an informative exploration of student-centered learning, personalized learning, competency-based learning and blended learning all of which they define and describe in detail.

See all three processes described in detail later in the guide.

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