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Competency Based Learning in CBSE Schools

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The NEP 2020 made some major alterations to the existing education curriculum. It took a step to drift from an assessment system that is primarily centered around memorization and rote learning towards a more granular and formative form of assessment. It gave paramount importance to competency-based learning for the students and test their higher-order thinking skills. It promotes rational thinking and enhances the student’s creativity and analytical skills. 

What is the Concept of Competency-Based Education?

Competency-based education (CBE) is an approach towards 

  • Teaching 
  • Learning 
  • assessment

That primarily gives attention to the student’s projection of desired learning outcomes as central to the process of learning. Teaching that implements CBE methodology works to strengthen the students and provide them with a relevant and beneficial learning experience. The process is centered around the learner and proactively imbibes the learning process in his/her life. It lays significance on the real-world applications of skills and knowledge. CBE validates the experience of learning at the school level.

What does Competency-Based Education appear to be?

Curriculum design

One of the basic fundamentals of this approach known as  CBE is that it should be related to real-world contexts and should fully cover topics that are related to employment and daily life. It gives paramount importance to the student’s progression through the curriculum at their own pace.

Teaching and learning

A core principle of CBE is that it focuses on student-centered learning and it lays significance on the teaching empowering the students to learn actively supported by feedback. It is similar to mastery-based learning.


Assessing the application of knowledge and skills to real-world contexts and using authentic problems which draw on real-life data are key features of CBE assessment systems.

Key Features of the CBE approach

  • Equity for all students: equity refers to customized learning opportunities that aid each student to attain the same end goals. CBE requires all schools to identify, comprehend and eradicate all kinds of bias from the learning.
  • Differentiated support based on student’s individual learning needs: The method is designed to meet different learning abilities and definitely leads to more efficient student outcomes
  • Progress based on evidence of mastery rather than time in the classroom: a basic fundamental of CBE is that it lays significance on mastery. Students are not permitted to continue until they have demonstrated mastery of all the competencies i.e the desired learning outputs to be displayed
  • The use of formative assessment, particularly peer and self-assessment, where students are encouraged to reflect on their own work and identify areas for improvement

Advantages of Competency-based Education (CBE)

  • CBE promotes high-order thinking skills and facilitates multifaceted approaches as they are of vital importance in the real competitive world
  • It enhances the social and emotional skills 
  • It helps the student to be more competent universally
  • It facilitates the students to master a skill at their own pace irrespective of the surroundings

How to Implement Competency-based Education

Competency-based Education (CBE) is a powerful and comparatively new approach to learning. It refers to an exemplar shift from a time bound to performance-based education. The drift towards this relatively new approach requires a lot of effort, skills, resources, coordination and dedication. Following are the prerequisites for successful implementation of CBE:

  Know Your Students

Various ways need to be implemented to understand the student’s backgrounds, learning abilities, interests, weaknesses and strengths. Knowing the student well facilitates the teacher to formulate a customized learning methodology for each student and help the student to overcome his or her weaknesses.

Establish  a CBE Ecosystem

For a successful transformation to CBE, it is mandatory to establish equity and provide training to the teachers. it is essential to provide every student with identical opportunities to succeed so the schools need to know their students in-depth and create a personalized learning experience for them. Teacher training is a driving force behind the successful implementation of CBE. Teachers are supposed to comprehend the new system and its methodology. Without high-quality teacher training, the CBE program cannot be efficiently established.

Determine Level Competencies

schools need to well define the competencies for students to attain at each level. Competency definition must focus on the practical application of knowledge and skills in real-world situations. 

Assessing for Perfection

CBE summative assessment is way apart from the traditional education system prevalent in India. Here, failing a student is not an option. Students can continue as long as they want to until they have attained mastery of the target competency.CBE assessment lays significance on knowledge and skill application.

Example of Competency-based Learning in Schools

All competencies are designed so as to enhance the problem-solving abilities of the student. The competencies target knowledge and skill applications that we encounter in the real world rather than mugging up the content. In the CBE system, the students move to the next level only when they demonstrate mastery.

For instance, a sixth-class student displayed reading problems. He was not able to identify the core problem areas and failed to make inferences or locate referents. Because a number of his classmates mastered these skills, they were promoted to the next level, while he stayed to improve these skills. However, that student alongside a couple of peers mastered the first term math curriculum one month before the time set to achieve them. For example, he excelled in factors, divisibility, and making geometric constructions (e.g., polygons). As a result, he advanced to the second level to study, for example, fractions and decimal numbers. An important part of that assessment was that it was performance-based, where students applied their learning in concrete situations. For example, they measured the area and perimeter of a tennis court (rectangular) and the football playground circle.

Competency-based Questions in Accordance to CBSE

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will assess the students of Classes 9 to 12 on the basis of the application of concepts in “real-life or unfamiliar situations”. Termed competency-based questions, the questions in the CBSE board exams will include:

as per the circular released on April 22. CBSE’s competency-based education project is aimed at replacing the existing rote-learning model with the competency-based framework as mentioned in National Education Policy (NEP) 2020

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