Competency Works! Leading Competency-Based Learning Initiatives

Jun 15, 2022 9:00AM—3:00PM


Marin Academy

Cost Early Bird Pricing for Members (available until May 19) $650 members; $600 group-rate 3+; $1,050 non-members

Categories ,

Executive Funcitioning workshop with CATDC


In Grading for Equity, Joe Feldman makes the case that the traditional grading schemes which often rely on “grad[ing] behaviors based on subjective interpretation . . . [are] a recipe for inequality” (2009, p. 41). Competency-based education is an approach to learning that ensures all learners develop explicitly defined, measurable, and transferable essential skills and dispositions by making continuous progress toward competency (also known and referred to as mastery). Even when a school (or a teacher) has made the decision to address such inequities, however, the question of how to move from a traditional, deficit-based grading system (with accompanying pedagogies) to an authentic, skills-based, student-centered approach is not an easy one. Indeed, the 2018–19 NAIS Trendbook (the last one published pre-pandemic) noted “a growing focus on measuring learning” and a need for schools to investigate “alternative ways of measuring learning” as critical to the future of education in independent schools (Trendbook, 2018, p. 166). This workshop is designed for leaders who are interested in leading and facilitating just this sort of change. In this 6-hour Summer Institute, participants will spend the morning hearing the story of one’s school’s process and learnings, with opportunities for engagement and connection. In the afternoon, individuals and school teams will work to chart a course for their own school’s journey.


Participants will:

  • Explore the “what” and the “why” of competency-based teaching and assessment as well as the hurdles and challenges associated with implementation. 
  • Understand that competency-based initiatives require community involvement, buy-in, and participation. Furthermore, participants will understand some of the approaches they might take in leading large-scale initiatives, and how best to respond to inevitable roadblocks and challenges.
  • Develop a mission-based “why” for such a movement at their own schools and practice planning and designing a 3-5 year plan for leading/facilitating change.


Curricular/Academic Leaders in middle and high schools; schools are encouraged to send teams as the afternoon work time will provide an opportunity for collaboration and feedback on a site-based plan.



Stella Beale (she/her) is the Dean of Faculty at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California. Prior to her arrival at MA, she worked at Windward in Los Angeles, California, first as Associate Director of Upper School and, later as the Director of Studies. Stella earned her BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, her MA in Education from Wake Forest University, and her MEd in Private School Leadership at Teachers College/Columbia University. Stella is also the proud mother of a student at Haverford College and an avid runner and hiker. When she's not in school, attending a CATDC workshop, or reading educational theory, she can most often be found pounding the pavement or hitting the trails.


KaTrina Wentzel (she/her) is the Academic Dean at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California. Before coming to MA, she worked at Mounds Park Academy (MPA), an independent PreK-12 school in Saint Paul, MN. Previous to her 14-year tenure at MPA, KaTrina was a teacher and curriculum coordinator for St. Paul Public Schools and also worked for Free Spirit Publishing in acquisitions and editorial. KaTrina received her B.A. in English from the women's college, College of St. Catherine, and an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Minnesota. KaTrina enjoys cooking and baking and all things succulent and, when she can, heading back home to visit her grandchildren.


Cancellation Policy

Life happens. We understand that there will be times when you cannot attend a workshop that you have registered and paid for. We strive to be as helpful and flexible as possible when things out of your control happen. Please visit our FAQ page for detailed information about our cancellation policy and answers to frequently asked questions about enrollment and membership.