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I am knee deep in the competency world and have read everything I can find about how to define this work. Is it Competency-based education, or Mastery-based Education or Proficiency-based Education? All these terms are being used interchangeably, but do they really mean the same thing?

I don’t think that they do.

Here is the way I am thinking about it. The term Competency-based Education, for me, is not about “being competent”. It is bigger than that. It is about this fundamental shift in teaching and learning that measures individual learning rather than measuring seat time. Competencies are created to define sets of knowledge, skills, concepts and mindsets that learners need to know and be able to do. Learners progress once they have demonstrated mastery of competencies, not after a set amount of time in a course.

Mastery and proficiency then are about assessing and achieving competencies. Learners must demonstrate their proficiency in a competency and multiple demonstrations of proficiency lead to mastery of that competency.

So how are we defining this work? We are developing a Competency-based Educational Model in which students progress toward a degree or certification based on their ability to demonstrate mastery of a comprehensive set of skills, knowledge, behaviors and mindsets at multiple times in multiple ways.

Here is a more in-depth look at the working definition of Competency Education.

This was one of our first blog posts before we had even opened our first school. Even after so many years, hundreds of people stumble upon this short post looking for something. While our early reflections still hold true to this day, we have come a long way. I hope you take some time to learn more about our model and peruse our open resources. Please feel free to contact us using the form at the bottom of the page. And if you are looking for further reading about competency/mastery/proficiency, check out our Getting Started with CBE page.

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