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The Sustainable Value of Competency-Based Education

Mar 27, 2023

Dr. Stacey Ludwig Johnson is the SVP of WGU and Executive Dean of the School of Education. In this article previously published here in edCircuit, she shares the role competency-based education can play in preparing more K12 teachers/leaders for our country’s classrooms. Dr. Ludwig Johnson is a regular contributor to edCircuit.

The Future of Education

There is much conversation about the future of education – particularly how to prepare K-12 teachers for any real challenges they could face throughout the education ecosystem. What lies ahead for classrooms as they overcome a myriad of post-pandemic obstacles? How will ever-evolving technologies affect how students learn, study, and demonstrate knowledge? Will reskilling be necessary for many educators and school administrators as they prepare young students for the future workforce? Competency-based learning can be the answer to this question and many others. 

The Role of Teachers Across Education

Our nation’s teachers have an indispensable role in society. They give students purpose, set them up for success as citizens of our world, and inspire them to do well and succeed in life. Students are the leaders of tomorrow, and teachers are that critical point that prepares a child for the future. And when I think about how we, as education colleges, can best prepare teachers for the future, I believe the most compelling model for training teachers is built around the sustainable framework of competency-based education.

How Competency-Based Education Works

Competency-based education measures educational experience by learning and mastery rather than time in a classroom. It has been the exclusive model of our Western Governors University programs since its founding. Competency-based education delivers workforce readiness by allowing for personalizing each student’s academic journey instead of enforcing one-size-fits-all pedagogical models. 

Particularly when coupled with flexible online delivery, the learning journey facilitated by competency-based education increases access to post-secondary credentials by easing constraints such as seat time, scheduling, cost, distance, and learning speed – while emphasizing student outcomes over enrollment metrics. 

Preparing Teachers to Deliver Consistent Competency-Based Learning

When it comes to preparing teachers competency-based education has all of the hallmarks for effective training. It has the goodness of personalization: education students are empowered daily to make important decisions about their learning experiences, how they will create and apply knowledge, and how they will demonstrate their learning.

Aspiring teachers can accelerate or pace to balance family or job responsibilities, completing much of their studies around their other responsibilities or life disruptions – rather than having to fit their lives around classroom time. And by mastering materials and knowledge infused with powerful concepts such as emerging technology, healthy learning, professional dispositions and ethics, and social-emotional learning, new teachers can enter their classrooms with the ability to design for unforeseen circumstances and to help students with a diverse range of learning needs.

The Future of Learners

The future of education holds great promise – and a great responsibility for teachers to solve problems, shape futures, and change the lives of their students. With competency-based education, teachers can transfer what they have learned through their studies to create an amazing and engaging classroom experience for young learners.

Simply put, competency-based education works. If we integrate this model into initial teacher training, we can better generate sustainable habits that empower aspiring teachers as the future generation of educators.



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