New CompetencyWorks Paper: Reengineering IT for Competency Education

CompetencyWorks releasing a briefing paper on IT for for competency-based environments, Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education.  
The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) is the lead organization for CompetencyWorks.  CEO Susan Patrick made the case for an IT upgrade:

Competency education is student-centric, personalizing student progress so that every child has adequate time and support to reach proficiency every step of the way. So too must the IT system be student-centric, academic standards-based in its organization of data. Students can learn in different ways at different times. School designs and operations will become more innovative and adaptable, responding to student needs by providing greater services and options. Competency education fundamentally changes the way the educational enterprise is organized around the student needs, and thus must have a dynamic IT system to support it.

The report draws four conclusions:

  1. IT systems are designed with student profiles and standards-based, personalized learning plans.
  2. Rich data on student learning enables robust continuous improvement.
  3. Student-centered systems require student-centered accountability systems focused on progress in learning.
  4. IT enterprise architecture requires interoperability, accessibility, and interfaces.

Find the report here: Full release below.  

New Report Guides IT for Competency Education:
Re-Imagining Our Schools Means Re-Engineering Our Information Systems

CompetencyWorks report examines an IT enterprise architecture for competency-based education

WASHINGTON, DC – CompetencyWorks and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) released a new report today, Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education. As more states move away from education systems built on factory-era, seat-time designs and toward competency-based, personalized learning environments for students, school information technology (IT) systems must be re-engineered to focus and report competency-based information on each student’s demonstrated, true progress in real time.
“Our school information systems need to become more intelligent around student learning and competency development. Today’s systems need to do more than act as electronic grade books with end-of-year test scores,” said Susan Patrick, President and CEO of iNACOL. “We need to build smart, mature information technology systems that provide students and teachers with detailed levels of proficiency over time. Advanced IT systems are needed that integrate with personalized digital learning resources, support students by building e-portfolios of demonstrated knowledge and skills, and offer multiple pathways to competency. New systems must capture meaningful assessments down to the level of the academic standard.”
A competency-based education model fundamentally changes the way the educational enterprise is organized around student needs, and thus must have a dynamic IT system to support it. Re-Engineering Information Technology analyzes and examines components and elements of effective competency-based information systems. The report stresses design issues for competency education systems to keep student learning at the core, interoperability requirements, and the importance of using an enterprise architecture approach that enables schools and districts to effectively manage their institutions with support of IT.
“Key to student-centered education is the design of information systems that move beyond the typical capabilities required by 19th century school models. We need more intelligent information systems to help manage the data on how students demonstrate proficiency along a learning trajectory based on competencies,” said Liz Glowa, the report’s author. “The core of competency education is this demonstration of learning, but most IT systems have been developed for traditional teacher-centric and course-based instructional models. Mature information systems must work for every education stakeholder in order to understand profiles of learning, trends, and more precise measurement of student success.”
Technical characteristics of this student-centered approach as outlined in the report include:

  • providing transparency into what students know and need to accomplish
  • enabling robust user tracking and reporting of performance
  • offering tools for differentiated instruction and curriculum
  • supporting options on how students can demonstrate learning

Based on interviews and research, the ideas in Re-Engineering Information Technology build upon the lessons learned in analyzing information systems developed by competency education innovators, best practices of systemic approaches to information management, and emerging opportunities. The paper is designed for readers to find those issues that are of most interest to them in their role and be used to catalyze strategies, support new competency-based instructional models, and inform decision making for continuous improvement.
To download a copy of the report, please visit
For more information about CompetencyWorks and competency-based education, please visit

# # #


Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.