Competency-Based Policies and Pathways: Lessons from Colorado and Illinois

Tuesday, September 27, 2016Printer-friendly version

Leaders and educators in a select number of states have begun to recognize that the traditional educational system — in which students move ahead, year after year, as long as they attain minimal proficiency on basic academic standards — can perpetuate learning gaps for students that grow over time. There is increasing understanding of how the traditional system can prevent students, particularly students of color, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities, from ever meeting the level of preparation they need for college and career.

To address these gaps and inequities, some states have turned toward a competency-based pathways (CBP) approach to advance true college and career readiness for their students. These states are using CBP to address persistent inequities caused by students progressing through a course of study without mastering essential knowledge and skills, lift the ceiling for students who want to progress at a faster pace, and provide flexibility and opportunity to accelerate learning.

Through the state engagement and development of recommendations, Achieve has identified early lessons learned in Colorado and Illinois that will be of interest to other states exploring CBP.