KnowledgeWorks History

Improving education opportunities for students has always been at the heart of our work. Though our mission has shifted slightly since our founding in 2000, as has the way we deliver services to adapt to current trends and needs, our focus has remained the same: empowering district leaders, teachers and students to achieve their highest potential.

Although personalized learning became a stated part of the KnowledgeWorks vision and mission in 2013, the underpinnings of personalized learning have existed at KnowledgeWorks since our inception. From our work restructuring large, impersonal high schools into small schools that offered personalized education in the early 2000s, to the use of data and continuous improvement at the district and school levels to improve student achievement in communities in the 2010s, to partnering with states, districts and communities to help them realize their vision for personalized learning today, KnowledgeWorks has always sought to put the student at the center of our work.

We have also recognized that students can’t prepare for college and the careers of tomorrow without understanding what the future will require of them. Since 2006, we have been engaged in a disciplined study of the trends shaping the future of education. We started developing forecasts of the future of learning, examining possible futures and exploring actions that learning communities can take today to shape the future that they want for their graduates. We came to see that our factory-era education system had to be turned on its head. Instead of focusing on the needs of the institution, schools needed to put learners at the center and create environments that fostered growth mindset, the cultivation of essential social-emotional skills and student agency, providing opportunities for learners to demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways and make meaningful connections with what they are learning.

As we have embraced an organizational vision for meaningful, personalized learning, KnowledgeWorks has leveraged over twenty years of experience and thinking across our portfolio to create a unique and focused point of view on personalized, competency-based learning, and national leaders are listening. KnowledgeWorks entered the national conversation about personalized, competency-based education behind a concentration of thoughtful policy briefs focused on federal policy reform, aligned advocacy and partner engagement, backed by foresight and research. This body of work, combined with our on-the-ground understanding of schools and communities, has helped KnowledgeWorks become a trusted resource for policymakers and other organizations interested in moving to a personalized, competency-based education system.

Key Milestones