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Policy Changes Needed for Shift to Competency-Based Education Model

Schools need to move away from the current factory model based on seat-time credit requirements and toward a new competency-based learning model that supports mastery-based, student-centered, personalized learning environments, according to CompetencyWorks and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). A new report, "Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills - A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education" from CompetencyWorks and iNACOL, outlines the policy changes required to make this shift to competency-based education.

The report describes the main concepts behind competency-based learning, explains how K-12 education policies and practices can be re-engineered, looks at creating a "culture of competency" within state agencies, and studies the first steps some states have taken toward introducing this model.

"We must recognize how new competency education systems support student-centered learning and empower educators with strategies for customizing instruction and enabling students to advance upon mastery of standards," said Susan Patrick, CEO of iNACOL and co-author of the report, in a prepared statement. "State leadership and policy are the linchpin to competency education, and this report introduces the concepts and mechanisms necessary for successfully redesigning the approach to education innovation through developing policies and practices for a student-centered system."

According to the report, some innovative education leaders in several areas of the country have already begun establishing advanced competency policy, including:

  • Redefining credits as competencies of what students know and can do;
  • Establishing proficiency-based diplomas and grading systems;
  • Providing credit flexibility to move away from seat-time requirements;
  • Enabling waivers for innovative schools; and
  • Offering support for building systemic approaches to challenge the traditional time-based system of the Carnegie unit.

The report is intended to encourage state leaders to reflect on the changes that some schools have already made and consider changes to K-12 education policy and practices. The organizations have also created a Competency-Based Pathways wiki that contains resources, links to videos, and other tools.

The full report, "Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills--A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education," can be found on the CompetencyWorks site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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