New Tool Meets Need to Systematically Examine Students' Experiences with Competency-Based Learning

Competency-Based Learning

Across the U.S., practitioners and policymakers are keenly interested in competency-based learning models of high school education. It is believed that competency-based learning models have significant potential to prepare students to succeed in college and careers and to ensure that high school graduation is based on something other than the time spent in classrooms. Yet there is scant research on how models work, if and how they affect student outcomes, and students' experiences with competency-based learning.

On August 24, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published a new REL Northeast & Islands at EDC survey tool and guide by EDC researchers Sarah Ryan (at left below) and Joshua Cox (at right below) that makes a pivotal contribution to bridging this gap in the knowledge base by supporting the collection of data on students' experiences with competency-based learning.

Sarah Ryan   photo

Designed to inform and advance competency-based learning initiatives nationwide, and developed in collaboration with the REL Northeast & Islands' College and Career  Readiness Research Alliance, "Guide to the Competency-based Learning Survey for Students" fills a critical need. Few user-friendly tools exist to support policymakers and practitioners in systematically examining how students perceive competency-based learning and drawing upon that data to improve the implementation and effectiveness of competency-based learning programs. In the video below, Ryan discusses the new tool and collaborative process to design the tool, and students and administrators in a high school that have used the survey share their insights on the tool and process.

The new tool complements a substantial body of research led by EDC, including other resources developed by our researchers through their REL Northeast & Islands at EDC work (read a REL report that defines competency-based learning and view a related webinar), our facilitation of a national Proficiency/Competency-based Learning Researcher Group, and our 7 years of serving as the evaluator of a Nellie Mae Education Foundation initiative focused on student-centered learning—one component of which is competency-based learning.

Last Updated: August 2016