Show What You Know: An overview of Competency-Based Education practices & key policy implications

April 26, 2024

As technological advancements drive continued changes to the workplace—and the skills expected from individual workers—the expectations of K-12 education systems are shifting to meet these needs.

Many states and school districts are considering how to best prepare students for the lives and careers they will experience outside of their educational pursuits. To shift the education system to better prepare students, some states are thinking about or currently implementing varied forms of student-centered models, including Competency-Based Education (CBE), to reform traditional ways of educating and testing students.

Competency-based education moves away from traditional Carnegie unit systems, which awards academic credit based on how much time students spend in direct contact with a classroom teacher. This transition is driven by a desire to link student advancement to mastery of content rather than seat time.[1]

In Nevada, CBE’s prevalence is growing—both through legislative pursuits and district buy-in. Nevada has not only enacted legislation in support of personalized learning in the past six years, but has also developed a Network within the community to generate ideas for implementing new educational approaches. The Nevada Portrait of a Learner Project further showcases a statewide effort to re-think required competencies for high school graduates.

Even with significant movement in CBE initiatives, there is lingering uncertainty about what CBE entails and how these practices could be implemented in Nevada. This policy brief aims to define what CBE is, identify challenges in implementing CBE, examine how other states are enacting CBE and its corresponding performance measures, and show potential models or best practices for Nevada.