Proficiency-Based Learning

Proficiency-Based Learning is a key component of flexible and personalized pathways set forth in Act 77 and the State Board of Education’s Education Quality Standards. Vermont public schools must provide students with flexible and personalized pathways for progressing through grade levels and to graduation. These resources can help educators and families understand some of the changes that are taking place in Vermont schools.

What is Proficiency-Based Learning?

The focus of proficiency-based learning is on students’ demonstration of desired learning outcomes. Students gain the skills, abilities, and knowledge required in an area of study, along with those necessary to be successful in college, career and civic life. Proficiency-based learning is designed to identify and address gaps to provide equitable learning opportunities for every student. This is in contrast to traditional systems which advance students based on seat time. Read more about “What is proficiency-based learning?”.



Vermont Agency of Education Briefs

At the agency, we recognize that many school systems have moved beyond discussing the "what" and the "why" of proficiency-based learning.  Others, however, are still in the initial stages of implementation. Regardless of where educators are along this continuum, it is important to revisit these questions at different points in time to help ensure a shared vision for the future. These briefs can be used to provoke important conversations among educators. Questions to consider include: How do these documents align with our thinking? How are they different? What might be missing?

Proficiency-Based Learning Resources

Suggested Readings/Resources 


Proficiency-Based Learning (Competency-Based Education) Across the United States

The map below, created by iNACOL,  indicates competency education is advancing across the country. Even in many of the states with little or no interest in exploring competency education, there are educators pursuing a better way to organize education so that students receive the instructional support they need. 
Map of United States with highlights on proficiency-based learning.

Organizations that Support Proficiency-Based Learning

  • Achieve-National, resources about competency-based pathways, graduation requirements, and college and career readiness.
  • Competency Works, Learning from the Cutting Edge, resources to support the understanding of competency-based education, personalization, and related policies.
  • Great Schools Partnership, resources for developing efficient standards-based systems that prepare all students for 21st-century colleges, careers, and communities.
  • Innovative Lab Network, a collaborative effort among states that are taking action to identify, test, and implement student-centered approaches to learning.
  • Innovative Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), resources on key topics that equip and empower leaders to catalyze and scale personalized, next generation learning models.
  • Nellie Mae Education Foundation, a knowledge base of materials created by funding projects that provide evidence of student-centered learning that enables every student to develop the skills and knowledge they need for the future.
  • Up for Learning: Communicating School Redesign, a statewide campaign by and for all Vermonters who are dedicated to redesigning our public schools so that our communities will thrive, now and in the years ahead.

Note: Competency and proficiency-based learning are used interchangeably in the resources above.


Email Pat Fitzsimmons or call (802) 479-1425

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Vermont Agency of Education
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

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