Competency Education State by State


Competency education, and the policies supporting its growth in K-12 education, continues to advance in states around the country.

For those not familiar with competency education, here is a working definition of the concept from iNACOL and CCSSO:

  • Students advance upon mastery
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

In February of this year, my colleague Maria Worthen, from iNACOL, and I released a paper entitled A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change that examined four domains of federal policy; accountability, systems of assessments, supports and interventions, and data systems. We not only identified federal barriers to scaling competency within each of these domains, but also offered policy solutions for states and the federal government to support the growing movement. On page nine of the report, you will find a map, developed by iNACOL, which illustrates the significant amount of state interest in competency education. The map specifically highlights advanced, developing, and emerging states based on recent policy developments ranging from the elimination of outdated seat-time policies to the adoption of competency-based diplomas.

My colleague, Jesse Moyer, and I have written extensively about some of the state-level policies supporting competency-based education, including:

  • Kentucky: Innovation Spotlight: Kentucky’s Districts of Innovation
  • Oregon: Is Oregon Ready to Scale Competency Education?
  • Maine: New Study Outlines Competency Education in Maine
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma is a State to Watch for Competency Education

For more information about competency education, KnowledgeWorks’ effort to support the movement, and other KnowledgeWorks’ publications on the topic, please visit the new competency education page on our website.