Competency-Based Education | News

Report: 4 Ways Policy Makers Can Encourage Competency-Based Ed

KnowledgeWorks and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) have released a new report, "A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change," designed to help policy makers and advocates change the education system in the United States.

"It is time to move away from traditional assumptions about how schools should look, how teachers should teach, and how students should learn," wrote the report's authors in an introduction. "These assumptions too often restrict learning to physical buildings, bell schedules, credit hours and static, paper-based learning materials. Many of these assumptions are further reinforced by federal, state, and local governments that incorporate them through outdated compliance requirements and funding structures."

The report suggests that policy makers should focus on four areas to move toward a more competency-based approach to education:

  • "Federal accountability policies" should encourage educators and organizations "to use real-time, individual student data to tailor instruction, supports and interventions," according to the report. For example, instead of measuring school effectiveness by the percentage of students who are proficient at math and English language arts according to annual state assessments, school effectiveness should be determined "by reporting on multiple measures of student growth and pace along learning progressions in a wide range of subjects."
  • "Flexible, balanced systems of assessment" should be used to measure standards-aligned competencies "with multiple measures, performance assessments, and evidence," according to the report;
  • Supports and interventions should be developed and deployed, with federal support, to use "real-time data to help students advance to college and career readiness through learning experiences aligned to their personalized learning pathways;" and
  • "Student-centered data systems" should "provide transparent information" on student competencies to help educators customize learning experiences, improve teaching and learning, and to help ensure accountability.

"The world is rapidly changing, and we must ensure that our education system prepares every student to succeed, no matter where they live or what challenges they face," said co-author Maria Worthen, iNACOL's vice president for federal and state policy, in a prepared statement. "It is time to move away from traditional assumptions about how schools should look, how teachers should teach, and how students should learn."

The full report is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at

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