Explaining Competency-Based Education to Parents

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will discuss strategies for explaining competency-based education to parents, to include emphasizing what competency-based education is, its flexibility and other benefits, and how it could change the school experience for them and their child.

Explaining Competency-Based Education

When talking with parents about a shift toward the competency-based education (CBE) model, there are a few basic guidelines. Keep it simple, and tell them that CBE emphasizes mastery of content rather than completion. It is important that you avoid pedagogical lingo that teachers or administrators use when implementing a CBE program. Don't get bogged down in unnecessary details. Rather, emphasize the ways that CBE can improve students' experiences at school. You should also be prepared to answer any questions that parents or students might have about the impact this program will have on schooling. Cater your message to the parents you are talking to, so if their child struggles, explain how they get more time without penalty. If you know their child rushes ahead and gets bored, emphasize the opportunity for advancement.

What Changes?

Let's look at some of the ways CBE differs from traditional schooling and how it can benefit students. These differences are important topics to discuss with parents.


CBE differs from traditional education in that it allows students to advance to the next level upon mastery of specific curriculum content. This means that some students may take more time or less time to understand what they are learning. Theoretically, this could warrant students of different ages and abilities being together in the same class. Students who progress quickly through the material with less practice may be working on more advanced concepts with older students who need more practice. This element of CBE is highly motivating for students.

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