Competency Based Education is a new effort by many state-level education agencies, and the Federal Department of Education, to pursue ways in which students can demonstrate mastery over concrete learning and skills. Traditionally schools focus on using testing, credentialing, and other certification methods to deem students successful in their academic growth based on grades. Performance-based assessments and other demonstrations of knowledge in which students present their learning are just one of the growing number of ways in which competency based education is taking form; imagine students working in small design teams, and creating actual products to demonstrate their learning. Or classrooms that are flexible enough to allow students multiple pathways beyond an end of unit test.

The State of Michigan has outlined the need for more competency based pathways in schools, but to completely reinvent the current system to provide multiple pathways for students to demonstrate success will be difficult. And as we develop new pathways, there may be undesirable outcomes to existing structures for learning that we’ll have to find ways to overcome. Marsha Myles, CEO of EdTech Specialists, was willing to lead us through a conversation of what focusing on competency based education could means for students in Michigan.

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