podcastED: SUFS president Doug Tuthill interviews LearningEdge founder Chris Sturgis

On this episode, Tuthill talks with a leading expert on the subject of competency-based education, an approach that allows students to advance based on their ability to master a skill or competency at their own pace regardless of the educational setting. Sturgis developed a deep understanding of competency-based education by visiting more than 100 schools in the United States and New Zealand that are leading the way toward a better model that is veering away from the A-F grading system.

Tuthill and Sturgis discuss how more traditional ranking and sorting education models must be reorganized around a more humane system in which students focus on developing strong social-emotional skills such as self-management, empathy, and relationship management.

“I think the No. 1 mistake schools make is not taking enough time to analyze the traditional system, why it was designed, and what the implications are … There is a lot of pressure to keep this system in place.”


  • How the current rank-and-sort education model creates a caste system that damages children of all income levels
  • How assessments can be more formative to inform better teaching and learning
  • Collaboration possibilities in competency-based learning environments
  • Empowering families and communities to have more control over their children’s education and aligning their decisions with best scientific knowledge of how children learn
  • Exchanging the modern definition of success as measured by economic wellbeing in favor of one that allows for greater happiness