Proficiency-Based learning | IDEA

Proficiency-Based learning


Proficiency-based and competency-based learning approaches have a long history and are a rising trend as states and districts try to adapt assessment systems to be more flexible and relevant. Here's a working definition of these kinds of approaches:

  • Students advance upon mastery of content and concepts rather than based on credits, time in class or age
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

The New York Performance Standards Consortium has been a leader in this field for many years. Now these alternative frameworks are beginning to become mainstream policy options. The following resources can help folks who want to learn more. IDEA promotes and makes connections amongst personalized learning approaches that are committed to equity and working toward powerful learning for each and every child.

Policy and legislation supported proficiency/competency based learning and assessment

  • New Hampshire competency-based legislation
  • Vermont personalized learning legislation, Act 77
  • NY Consortium waiver

Word choice here: competency or proficiency.

  • Proficiency is used by VT and more by progressive educators.
  • Competency may be used more broadly overall and is the term used by the U.S. DOE, for example here.