Aligning K-12 and postsecondary competency-based education models

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Project Description

What is the future of competency-based education?


Kinetic Seeds teamed up with Lumina Foundation and KnowledgeWorks to conceptualize what it means to create a seamless competency-based education (CBE) system. CBE is an emerging academic delivery model demonstrating promising student outcomes across the country. It is also a relatively new funding arena for states and foundations with investments being made in a variety of K-12 and higher ed environments. As with traditional education, today’s CBE models are following a similar trajectory of bifurcation between secondary and post-secondary systems with models, tools, resources, and policies being developed in both arenas. Might there be a way to bring it all together and align K-16 CBE policies and models from the start? That’s the idea behind this project that brought a group of foundations that fund CBE together to deepen the understanding of what philanthropies are doing to advance CBE; explore the need for an aligned K12/higher-ed CBE system and identify areas of future investment and collaboration.


  • Philanthropic organizations are significantly aligned around the vision and values of CBE and its potential is nothing less than wholesale transformation of the current system. For those studied for this research, CBE is not about simply bettering the current system. It is a new way of teaching and learning that empowers learners to take ownership while also meeting learners where they are; accounting for individual needs, strengths, interests, and approaches to learning.
  • The “how” of CBE development and implementation is not risk-free because to do it right, significant aspects of existing K12, postsecondary and workforce systems must change to adapt to this new way of learning.
  • Consequently, levers for change may be found in unusual places. For instance, we are moving beyond the traditional constructs of K12 and Postsecondary systems to an ecology or ecosystem that engages K12, Postsecondary, Workforce, Cities, and Communities in cross-sector partnerships that both connects learners to learning, work, and life opportunities as well as prepares learners for current and future life demands.
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Project Details

  • Date22 October 2018
  • CategoryParticipatory Design