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Utah Governor Signs Competency-Based Education Grants Program into Law



March 29, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Yesterday, Governor Gary Herbert signed SB 143 into law, which establishes the Competency-Based Education Grants Program.  Under this law, schools may apply for grants to pilot a competency-based education program where students advance to higher levels of learning when mastery is demonstrated regardless of time, place or pace.

“Utah is shifting the focus back to students and empowering schools to create a flexible path that personalizes learning where time is the variable and learning the constant,” said Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) CEO Patricia Levesque. “By moving away from the traditional one-size-fits all system, Utah is empowering educators to be innovative and design classes, schedules and staffing configurations that best meet their students’ individual needs.”

Competency-based education represents a shift from the current school-centered system to one that is more student-centered. In the traditional system, grades are earned and students move on to the next skill, regardless if all the critical concepts were mastered. In a competency-based education system, classes are not tied to the traditional school year calendar. Students can move from one concept to the next as soon as they demonstrate proficiency through different options such as their classwork and assessments.

The new law states that applications for the grant to pilot a competency-based education model must include a plan for school-wide implementation of the program, demonstrate local governing board support and include communication plans for teachers, parents and community members.  Grant recipients will be able to give their teachers and principals the opportunity to better customize their students’ education, empowering them to plan, implement and scale their own approaches to competency-based education at the local level.

This law is not a one-size-fits-all approach; it empowers innovative educators to implement locally-driven approaches to competency-based education that ensures their students master content before moving forward.