The education field is regularly plagued by the need for common definitions as new practices emerge. As we’ve seen with personalized learning, ambiguous terms for ambitious ideas can create widespread confusion and even skepticism. By contrast, a common definition can pinpoint a “north star” that helps practitioners and policymakers focus efforts to implement a new approach. In the case of competency-based education, researchers and educators have worked for years to define the term and document its component parts in detail.

However, even when a general...

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  • About the Author:

    Chelsea Waite is a research fellow at the Christensen Institute focusing on blended and personalized learning in K-12 education, where she analyzes how innovation theory can inform the design of new instructional models.