New iNACOL Report: State Policymakers Guide to K-12 Competency Education

Today iNACOL released Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education co-authored by Susan Patrick and Chris Sturgis. The paper focuses on key changes policymakers can take to remove barriers and create student-centered learning environments that allow for competency education.

In January Chris Sturgis also co-authored The Shift from Cohorts to Competency with Digital Learning Now! Executive Director John Bailey and Getting Smart’s Tom Vander Ark and Carri Schneider.

Media Release:

Latest CompetencyWorks paper examines move toward competency-based models

WASHINGTON, DC – A new report from CompetencyWorks and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) outlines key policy changes necessary for U.S. schools to move away from restrictive seat-time credit requirements and toward a 21st century learning model based on a student’s demonstrated mastery of knowledge and skills. In Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education, authors Susan Patrick and Chris Sturgis highlight state-level progress in removing barriers to mastery-based, student-centered, personalized learning environments. Americans value an education that prepares students for global competitiveness, providing students with world-class knowledge and skills. In order for this to become reality, our schools must be designed around student learning, not around a factory-model limited by learning within confines of the one-size-fits-all bell system — where learning is the variable and massive achievement gaps persist.
Susan Patrick, co-author and CEO of iNACOL said, “A growing number of states are already advancing toward a new system of competency-based education that rewards and recognizes that each and every child can learn and be held to high, rigorous standards. States and federal policy leaders must re-examine time-based accountability. We must recognize how new competency education systems support student-centered learning and empower educators with strategies for customizing instruction and enabling students to advance upon mastery of standards. State leadership and policy are the linchpin to competency education, and this report introduces the concepts and mechanisms necessary for successfully redesigning the approach to education innovation through developing policies and practices for a student-centered system.”
An opportunity for state leaders to reflect upon the efforts of contemporaries around the country, Necessary for Success shares insights into re-engineering the policy and practices of our K-12 systems; introduces the main concepts behind competency-based learning; studies important initial steps taken by states in introducing this emerging model; and considers creating a culture of competency within state agencies.
Co-author Chris Sturgis, Principal of MetisNet, said, “State education leadership, together with their district and school partners, are changing the nature of America’s education system. Necessary for Success captures the bold vision and creativity they are utilizing to transform the traditional time-based system to one in which equity and excellence go hand-in-hand to drive the re-engineering of education.”
Necessary for Success highlights innovative education leaders in several areas of the country who, realizing that there is something inherently wrong with our current time-based system, are establishing advanced competency policy by redefining credits as competencies of what students know and can do; establishing proficiency-based diplomas and grading systems; providing credit flexibility to move away from seat-time; enabling waivers for innovative schools; and offering support for building systemic approaches to challenge the traditional time-based system of the Carnegie unit.
To download a copy of Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education, please visit
To learn more about competency-based education, please visit CompetencyWorks at
Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills was made possible with the generous support of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Donnell-Kay Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Caroline Vander Ark

Caroline is President of Getting Smart.

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