A Path to Agency, Equity, and Transfer


The Competency Based Learning Handbook by Global Online Academy
April 1, 2019

Before the age of seat time and the Carnegie Unit, people learned to do things, mainly, by doing them. Apprentices were made masters only after demonstrating skills and creating things -- shoes out of leather, farms from fields, paper from pulp -- to the satisfaction of their mentors and teachers. Now, in the age of technology, school choice, and blended learning, educators including those at Global Online Academy are using 21st century tools to resurface some of the old-world joy of learning and demonstrating well-honed skills. Competency-Based Learning, also called proficiency-based, skills-based, and mastery-based learning, is defined as "a system designed to ensure all students develop the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond." In their Competency Based Learning Handbook available via free PDF download, the team at Global Online Academy offers educators and schools a visually pleasing and clearly written primer on CBL -- what it is, why its time is now, and how it can be adopted in schools to ignite student engagement and performance while also amplifying teacher leadership. GOA dispels common misconceptions about CBL, including that it is self-paced, prioritizes skills over content, or lacks rigor. In fact, schools that adopt CBL bolster three ever-more crucial learning elements for students: agency, equity, and transfer. To help teachers to collaborate around strategic CBL academic directions, GOA also created a CBL toolkit, available for purchase. The toolkit includes the above described handbook; an expansive set of activities, prompts and protocols for teachers; and reflection and experience cards aimed at aligning and strengthening teaching teams as they shift their pedagogy a lot or a little to prioritize this student-centered, 21st century learning framework.

Submitted By: Jessica Flaxman, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

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