Five Recommendations for State Leaders Implementing Personalized, Competency-Based Learning

Article
June 30, 2022

There was no precedent for statewide implementation of personalized, competency-based learning. But recently that changed.

KnowledgeWorks needed to know if we and our partners were on the right path and what we could do better. So we partnered with Research For Action to conduct a cross-state analysis of the implementation of personalized, competency-based learning. From State Commitment to District Implementation: Approaches and Strategies for Personalized, Competency-Based Learning documents and analyzes how personalized, competency-based learning is taking hold in these states and the initial cohort of school districts implementing the work.

Based on the data collection and the analysis presented in the report, here are five recommendations for state leaders in the field:

  1. Establish a clear and shared vision and goals for personalized, competency-based learning from the outset.
    At the state level, leaders in the effort continue to work on defining a shared vision for personalized, competency-based learning and the goals they wish to achieve. It is critical to establish strategic and measurable goals across a coalition of partners at the outset of any effort so that there is clear vision for the work.
  2. Advocate for personalized, competency-based learning as a vehicle to achieve the state’s larger vision for education.
    Advocates for personalized, competency-based learning can identify the state’s larger vision(s) for education and frame personalized, competency-based learning as a vehicle to meet that vision(s).
  3. Develop state policy that supports the adoption and scale-up of the work and orient district leaders on how to leverage these policies in their local context.
    Across all four study states, policymakers have supported the work through the creation of legislation, frameworks and commissions/task forces that created the policy landscapes in which personalized, competency-based learning could be adopted and implemented, while also increasing flexibility that allows for scale-up to additional districts and schools. At the same time, district leaders will need help to understand how to take advantage of these policies to adopt and implement personalized, competency-based learning in their local context.
  4. Build a broad coalition at the state level to provide input in the effort and support the work.
    In order to build, scale, and sustain support for the effort, policymakers, advocates, service providers and practitioners from across the state will need to be involved in adopting and supporting personalized, competency-based learning.
  5. Identify indicators to measure implementation and impact.
    Due to the early phase of the work and the complexity of implementing personalized, competency-based learning, states, as well as districts, have been focusing on identifying indicators to measure the level of implementation; indicators of individual or aggregate student outcomes also remain unclear. In order to track the level of implementation and determine whether an initiative is ready to measure impact, clear and measurable indicators need to be defined.

Read the other recommendations for state leaders in the report.

Related Resources

What we learned in developing and improving measures to understand the progress and impact of personalized, competency-based teaching and learning

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C-BEN: Why are K-12 and higher ed shifting toward competency-based education, and how can they align?

A guidebook to help understand the factors that have contributed to academic success for historically marginalized yet resilient students

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