By Christine Cooke

New Opportunity

Utah education leaders: Have you heard of “competency-based education”? Are you interested in learning more? Do you want to bring it to your district?

You can now apply to build a Competency-Based Learning Exploratory Team. Teams will learn about competency-based learning through in-state and out-of-state site visits and other resources. Applications are due to Sarah Young, Director for Digital Teaching and Learning at the State Office of Education, by May 15, 2017, by 5 p.m.

New Approach to Education

Competency-based education – sometimes called mastery-based or performance-based – flips the traditional school structure on its head. While specific approaches differ, the philosophy behind it is that each student progresses through academic content at his or her individual pace.

Instead of seat time, attendance and credit hours being fixed, with actual learning being variable, competency-based education allows time, pace and place to be variable, with learning fixed. This way students can go at a speed that works them and ensures that students obtain competency in a subject, not simply a letter grade. Watch this video to learn more about the change in philosophy.

This program stems from SB 143, legislation passed in 2016 that authorizes a pilot program for competency-based education in Utah. For more information on competency-based education, read our blog.

Christine Cooke works as a policy analyst for Sutherland Institute’s Center for Educational Progress. Christine has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in English Teaching and graduated from Arizona State University with a law degree. Prior to joining Sutherland Institute, Christine was an English teacher at a public junior high school and a residential treatment center. As a student attorney in the Arizona State University Juvenile Advocacy Clinic, Christine represented clients in juvenile law proceedings and taught community legal education to high school students. She worked in legal and policy research with the legal counsel for the Arizona Office of the Governor, legal counsel for Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, the Goldwater Institute, and The Heritage Foundation. Christine has made appearances on Fox-13 News and KSL’s Sunday Edition and is regularly featured in regional publications and radio shows. She currently sits on a state committee that advises the Utah State Board of Education on specific education issues. When in her home state of Arizona, she loves to spend time with her family. She also loves music, hiking, and making cookies.


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