Competency-Based Learning: A Dropout Prevention Strategy? | Education Week's blog > High School & Beyond
The answer, according to a survey by the U.S. Department of Education, is yes. The department found that one-third of high schools offer competency-based flexibility to students.
Funded as part of the department's High School Graduation Initiative, the survey asked principals in 2,142 high schools about their use of 13 improvement strategies for the 2014-15 school year. The exploration of competency-based advancement is one of five briefs released from that survey. The others explore early-warning systems, mentoring, career-themed curricula, and student support teams.
Keep in mind as you read the brief that the education department wasn't studying whether competency-based advancement worked as a dropout strategy. It was only asking principals if it was one of the tactics they were using to help struggling students graduate. It defines "competency-based advancement" as letting students move ahead when they show mastery through projects, portfolios, or performance assessments, or through tests given whenever they're ready.
It's probably not too surprising that the survey showed competency-based advancement is more prevalent in high-poverty, urban schools with low graduation rates than it is in more affluent, suburban schools. One possible explanation for this is the expansion of credit-recovery programs, typically computer-based catch-up programs that students can complete at their own pace.
Source: Education Week's blog > High School & Beyond