Competency Based Education
Integrating Competencies and Content Standards
Kathleen Santopietro Weddel
Northern Colorado Literacy Resource Center
Definitions of Competency Based Education
Competency Based Education focuses on outcomes of learning. CBE
addresses what the learners are expected to do rather than on what they are
expected to learn about. CBE emerged in the United States in the 1970s
and refers to an educational movement that advocates defining educational
goals in terms of precise measurable descriptions of knowledge, skills, and
behaviors students should possess at the end of a course of study.
Richards and Rodgers
Competency Based Education is outcome based instruction and is adaptive
to the changing needs of students, teachers, and the community.
Competencies describe the student's ability to apply basic and other skills
in situations that are commonly encountered in everyday life. Thus CBE is
based on a set of outcomes that are derived from an analysis of tasks
typically required of students in life role situations.
Competency Based Education is a functional approach to education that
emphasizes life skills and evaluates mastery of those skills according to
actual leaner performance. It was defined by the U.S. Office of Education as
a "performance-based process leading to demonstrated mastery of basic and
life skills necessary for the individual to function proficiently in society"
(U.S. Office of Education, 1978).
Competencies consist of a description of the essential skills, knowledge,
attitudes, and behaviors required for effective performance of a real-world
task or activity. These activities may be related to any domain of life,
though have typically been linked to the field of work and to social survival
in a new environment.
Competencies are essential skills that adults need to be successful members
of families, the community, and the workplace.
Competency Based Education (CBE)
CASAS IT 2005
Competency Based Education Programs
1. Specific, measurable competency statements
2. Content based on learner goals (outcomes/competencies)
3. Learner continues in program until demonstrating mastery
4. Use a variety of instructional techniques and group activities
5. Focus on what the learner needs to learn, which is the application
of basic skills in a life skills context
6. Use texts, media, and real life materials geared to targeted
7. Provide learners with immediate feedback on assessment
8. Pace instruction to learner needs
9. Have learner demonstrate mastery of specified competency
CASAS IT 2005
Are you implementing Competency Based Education in your program?
If yes, how?
What are the benefits of Competency Based Education for adult learners?
What are some issues or problems surrounding CBE in adult education
Mrowicki, L. 1986 Project Work English Competency-Based Curriculum.
Portland, OR: Northwest Educational Cooperative. Page 144 Approaches
and Methods in Language Teaching
Richards, J and Rodgers, T. 2001 Approaches and Methods in Language
Teaching. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Savage, L. 1993 Literacy Through a Competency-Based Education Approach,
Page 15 --Approaches to Adult ESL Literacy Instruction. Washington DC:
Center for Applied Linguistics.
Schneck, E.A. 1978. A Guide to Identifying High School Graduation
Competencies. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.
Page 141-- Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching
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