Principle C: Competency-based learning targets
To know when each student has learned the current material, the teachers have to define the content in the form of learning targets, which are more detailed than typical state and national standards. To avoid fragmentation, learning by doing (principle E) places the learning targets within a holistic, meaningful context.
Principle A: Competency-based student progress
In a competency-based system, students move on when they have learned and can demonstrate the understandings or skills. If it’s important enough to teach, it is important enough to make sure students learn it. Thus, no student moves on before mastering the current topic, and each student moves on as soon as he or she masters the current topic. Student progress is based on learning rather than time.
Principle B: Competency-based student assessment
For a student to move on as soon as he or she has learned the current material, the teacher must know when the student has mastered it. Hence, PCBE requires a different paradigm of assessment—criterion-referenced assessment—which compares student performance to a standard (or criterion), rather than comparing students to each other (norm-referenced assessment).
Principle D: Competency-based student records
To make decisions about what a student should learn next, one must know what the student has already learned. Current student records only tell you the courses the student attended and grades that tell you how well the student did compared to other students. What you need instead is a list of individual learning targets the student has mastered, often accompanied by a portfolio, rubric assessment, or other proof of mastery, sometimes called a digital backpack.