Fred Bramante

The Father of the Competency-Based Learning Movement

Fred is the Founder and President of the National Center for Competency-Based Learning (NCCBL), a New Hampshire based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose vision is “the world as the classroom.”

Today, NCCBL, under Fred’s leadership, is leading the New Hampshire Department of Education’s effort to revamp its K-12 regulations. Additionally, NCCBL is coordinating an effort along with the NH School Administrators to “Redefine” what it means to be “Ready” to successfully complete high school with a new vision that says "by 2025, virtually every New Hampshire high school student will earn, or be on a personalized path to earning, a post-secondary or career related credential".

Fred has delivered over 1500 presentations to audiences nationwide on education reform and school redesign. His speaking events have inspired leaders in education about the possibilities for true student engagement, student success and the positive impact it has within the workforce, particularly for traditionally underserved communities.


In 1995, Fred Bramante received the prestigious Alumni Achievement Award from Keene State College, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Science (1970). In 2009, Fred was given the Alumni Achievement Award from Plymouth State University where he received his Masters Degree in Educational Leadership (2006). In 1964, Fred graduated 206th of 212 students in his high school; that year his applications for admission to both colleges were rejected.

A former 8th grade Science teacher, Fred left teaching to put a full-time effort into his fledgling music business. With his life savings of $600, Fred founded Daddy’s Junky Music (1972) and grew it from the smallest of over 11,000 music dealers to the 15th largest in America.

Fred is a former candidate for governor and a past Chairman of the New Hampshire State Board of Education. Appointed by both Republican and Democratic governors, Fred served on the State Board longer than anyone in the state’s history. In 2003, as chairman of the State Board, Fred led New Hampshire’s first full-scale effort to redesign public education since 1919. In this effort, New Hampshire became the first state to declare that it was moving away from the century-plus old Carnegie Unit/time based system and toward a competency-based model. This effort started the national movement toward competency-based learning. Fred has been referred to as “The Father” of the movement. Fred’s work is chronicled in his book Off the Clock: Moving Education from Time to Competency (Bramante & Colby, Corwin Press. 2011).

In 2019, Fred was named one of New Hampshire’s Top Innovators by New England Business Media for his work in education redesign.

Keynote Topic #1

Reimagining Learning- Saving Public Education from Itself

Let’s face it: We’re STRUGGLING! In America today, poor test scores, dropouts, the label of “boring”, workforce needs, charter schools, and then, add Covid, public education is under ever-increasing pressure to evolve into something better. But, trying to extricate ourselves from the 1906, seat-time (180 days, move-on-by-age) model is easier said than done, especially, in light of regulations, local policies, and defenders of the status quo. Reimagine, sure, but into what?

A new model is emerging! America is beginning to move away from the seat-time model and toward competency-based learning (CBL). Done well, a competency-based system will enable us to afford a customized learning experience for every student.

If you trace back to the origin of the CBL movement, you find Fred Bramante.

“Fred Bramante is the 21st century’s John Dewey.” -Dr. Leo Corriveau, former NH Superintendent of Schools

Learning objectives
1. Learn how and which 20th century policies prevent change and foster the status quo.
2. Actively engage the 4 key stakeholder groups in the process of change.
3. Ensure that even the most challenging students become successful learners.


Keynote Topic #2

Guns, Drugs and a Passion for Learning

“You show me a kid who is bored in school and I'll show you a kid who is more likely to become involved in bad behavior”. It's rarely the engaged student who gets in trouble. All too often school shooters are current or former students exacting revenge or personal grievances.”

Our system of public education was never designed to make students passionate about learning. That passion for learning exists in virtually every student, but schools rarely tap into it. How can we change the system in order for every student to feel genuinely excited about school and less likely to get involved with guns and drugs? We need a different school model. The model that can bring out the passion in every student is Competency-Based Learning. From 2003-05, Fred Bramante, past chairman of the New Hampshire State Board of Education, led the effort to redesign New Hampshire schools which started a national movement.

“Every school’s focus should be to ensure that every student is passionate about their learning and help students become experts in whatever is their personal area of interest.”

So, how can your schools become “Passion For Learning Schools”?

Learning objectives
1. Learn about the relationship between a lack of engagement and bad behaviors
2. Learn how and which state and local policies prevent the necessary changes.
3. Learn how to engage the 4 key stakeholder groups in the change process.
4. Ensure that even the most challenging students become passionate learners.


Keynote Topic #3

ED2 - Education Driven Economic Development

A high-school diploma is no longer sufficient to send students out into the world of work.

The goal of ED2 is to make business and education full partners in creating the workforce of tomorrow by matching students’ interests with workforce needs and creating a nearly endless pipeline of interns. Led by Fred Bramante, the building of ED2 is the official mission of the New Hampshire Coalition for Business and Education (NHCBE).

As a component of ED2, the Coalition, along with the NH School Administrators’ Association has developed a Joint Vision for High School that states

“by 2025 virtually every New Hampshire high school student will earn, or be on a personalized path to earning, a post-secondary or career-related credential.”

ED2 helps to create a new model of school that students see as closely connected to their interests and their personal place in the world of work.

Learning Objectives
1. Learn how moving to competency-based learning facilitates the building of ED2.
2. Learn the 10 key components of a comprehensive ED2 Action Plan.
3. Learn how to turn students' interests into real world internships and career credentials while in high school.


1. Ray McNulty - President of the National Dropout Prevention Center,
2. Dr. Stephen Reno - Former Chancellor, University System of New Hampshire,

Past Clients

Fred Bramante has given approximately 1500 presentations on school redesign. Here are some of Fred's past audiences.

Alaska School Boards Association
American Association of School Administrators
Association of Educational Service Agencies
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
CESA #1- Wisconsin
Design Challenge-Missouri
Iowa Education Summit
Missouri 2022 Education Conference
Model Schools Conference
National Education Association (NEA) Republican Conference
National Governors Association
Rhode Island Association of School Committees
Vermont Superintendents Association
West Ed Annual Conference

June 11, 2013: It's Not About Time; It's About Learning: Fred Bramante at TEDxYouth@IFTA

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