An icon of a lightbulb, representing competency-based education

Competency-Based Education Pilot

The PWR Act establishes a pilot program for voluntary school district participation in a competency-based education model, allowing students more flexibility to progress as they demonstrate mastery of concepts.

In contrast to an education model focused on seat time (the amount of time a child spends in a class), a competency-based education (CBE) allows students to master a skill or competency at their own pace, regardless of the environment. This method is tailored to meet different learning abilities and can lead to more efficient student outcomes.

The PWR Act establishes a pilot program for voluntary school district participation in moving from seat-time graduation requirements to competency-based high school graduation requirements. This includes a streamlined waiver process for pilot districts of laws and regulations that may restrict the competency-based system’s implementation. 

Key Resources

Visit the Illinois State Board of Education webpage for an overview of the CBE pilot and a list of participating districts.

Initial guidance for developing academic and adaptive learner competencies as part of implementing a competency-based education system.

Guidance and Implementation Supports

Designed for education policymakers and practitioners, this webinar explores the opportunities remote learning provided to shift from traditional teaching and learning to more systemic personalized and competency-based approaches.

The Chicago Equity-Centered Innovation Forum (CEIF) is a partnership between Education Systems Center and Chicago Public Schools aimed at supporting innovative models for addressing systemic inequities such as student-centered personalized instruction, competency-based approaches, and performance assessments. Explore resources created and curated by CEIF.

Exemplary Practices from the Field

View the videos from Shifting Chicago Narratives, an 11-week after-school project that is engaging students through multi-media platforms to tell their stories.

Huntley High School’s Vanguard Vision program is a competency-based education program in which students spend half of their days in a distinctive personalized learning environment. Watch a video overview and access information about the program.

Ridgewood High School’s website includes an overview of its Competency Education program that focuses on what students need to keep them in school as well as prepare them for college and careers.

An explanation of Unit District #116’s approach to grading and how it differs from a traditional system

The framework Chicago Public Schools uses for alignment, reporting, and assessment.

Competency-based education means different things at different schools, but at Benito Juarez Community Academy, a Chicago neighborhood public high school, it means a focus on equity—and that means prioritizing social-emotional skills, or developmental/adaptive competencies, as well as academics.