The Emerging Federal Role for Competency Education

Over the past year, two words seem to dominate conversation about the future of our education system: competency education. At least 40 states have one or more school districts implementing competency based models and a growing number of states have begun serious conversations about how to transition to a system that ensures students get the supports and extra time they need to master academic content and transferrable skills. Despite an explosion of new policies, pilot initiatives, and tools designed to help schools implement competency-based approaches, a major road block in this paradigm shift lies ahead: federal K-12 policy.

KnowledgeWorks’ sheds light on this challenge in our first competency education policy brief released today:  An Emerging Federal Role for Competency Education. The goals of this publication are to not only familiarize policymakers with the paradigm shift happening in K-12 schools across the country, but to also bring to the forefront the fact that federal law makes it challenging for a state, district, or school to pursue this approach. In particular, the federal government’s reliance on time-based accountability and assessment systems makes it difficult for states to redesign their systems to support competency education at scale.

The success of the competency movement depends heavily on the federal government’s willingness to partner with states and districts as they design education systems that put students at the center. We hope this brief sparks lots of conversation toward this end.

Stay tuned for more policy briefs throughout the year on competency education including a federal accountability and assessment framework that supports continued innovation.

Lillian Pace

Written by: Lillian Pace

Lillian Pace is the Senior Director of National Policy with KnowledgeWorks.

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