How Innovations Flourish: Competency-Based Education in US and New Zealand

by Chris Sturgis

Competency-based education and its partner, personalized learning, are expanding across the U.S as well as in pockets of innovation around the world.

Below are short case studies from schools in the U.S. and in Aotearoa New Zealand to give you a feel for what a personalized, competency-based approach to education can look like.

Here are four case studies based on site visits in 2019:

Three other sets of case studies will give you insights into different ways of designing schools for personalized, competency-based education.


Casco Bay High School in Portland Public Schools provides a great model to understand how schools can design for proficiency-based learning:


Idaho invested in a pilot strategy to launch mastery-based learning. These articles are based on site visits during the first year of implementation.

Aotearoa New Zealand

Aotearoa New Zealand has a substantially different set of policies that promote school autonomy. Some schools continue to be highly traditional while others are moving to highly personalized, competency-based models (although they use different language in different ways).

School Visits

Pt. England Primary

Hobsonville Point Secondary School

Swannanoa School

Karori Normal School

Understanding the Aotearoa New Zealand Education System

You can find more links to other case studies here.

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