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Competency-Based Education: The Why, What, and How

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  1. Unit 0: What is Competency-Based Education?
    5 Topics
  2. Unit 1: Why Competency-Based Education?
    13 Topics
    1 Quiz
  3. Unit 2: Competency-Based Education in the Classroom
    10 Topics
  4. Unit 3: Considering Competency-Based Education Systems
    10 Topics
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One of the challenges schools encounters when they begin exploring competency-based education is determining what skills and content they want students to master. Schools that have a coherent vision of what they want their students to be able to do find it easier to identify key competencies. A graduate profile is a tool to help schools create a coherent vision for their students.

A graduate profile is a collection of characteristics or capabilities that a school hopes a graduate will possess, and that will hopefully enable them to be successful after graduation. It answers the questions: What distinguishing features or qualities should characterize the graduates of your school? What should they be able to do? What should they understand? A well-written graduate profile can act as a touchstone that you return to again and again as you have conversations about the direction of your school. 

You’ll use templates for this activity which you can access in Google slides and pdf format.

1. Set a timer for 10 minutes and brainstorm around the following prompts. As you’re thinking, consider multiple dimensions of student skills, including cognitive, interpersonal, personal, etc.:

  • My graduate has experience with… Example: Solving multidisciplinary problems
  • My graduate views themself as… Example: A strong communicator who can present ideas clearly and concisely
  • My graduate will know… Example: Role and structure of government and opportunities for civic participation
  • My graduate will be ready to [do]… Example: Manage and deliver a project on time, in accordance with identified needs
  • The leadership of my school and my community are especially proud of graduates that are like/can do the following… Example: Can persist and complete challenging tasks, even in the face of adversity

Generate as many ideas as you can. Don’t judge the ideas, just get them down on paper. 

2. Review an existing graduate profile. We found two that we thought were especially interesting: 

Are there certain characteristics from these profiles that especially resonate with you? Did you find any characteristics that weren’t on your list but should be added? Adjust your list as needed. 

3. Pick 6 characteristics from the list you brainstormed that seem particularly relevant for your school and include them on the template (see above). We are not saying that you must limit your priorities to six; we just wanted to provide boundaries for this activity. Provide a sentence of explanation for each characteristic about why you chose to include it.  

4. If you’d like, share your filled-out template (which has your characteristics and their explanations) and thoughts about this process with a colleague.