This summary of competency-based learning from iNACOL is a great introduction and overview about one of the most exciting trends in teaching and learning.

Frequently, competency education is described as simply flexibility in awarding credit or defined as an alternative to the Carnegie unit. Yet, this does not capture the depth of the transformation of our education system from a time-based system to a learning-based system. Competency education also holds promise as districts explore new ways to expand and enrich support to students, challenging the assumption that learning takes place within the classroom. Competency-based approaches are being used at all ages from elementary school to graduate school level, focusing the attention of teachers, students, parents, and the broader community on students mastering measurable learning topics.

Competency Based Education

As part of iNACOL’s Summer Spotlight Series, we’ve gathered together some of our favorite learning materials to help you explore competency education more deeply as you consider the upcoming school year and the ongoing transformation toward personalized learning.

Understanding Competency Education

Making Mastery Work: A Close-Up View of Competency EducationNellie Mae Education Foundation

Mean What You Say: Defining and Integrating Personalized, Blended and Competency EducationiNACOL

When Success is the Only Option: Designing Competency-based Pathways for Next Generation LearningiNACOL

The Shift from Cohorts to CompetencyDigital Learning Now & Getting Smart


Implementing Competency Education

Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency EducationCompetencyWorks

The Art and Science of Designing CompetenciesCompetencyWorks

Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency EducationCompetencyWorks


Policy Considerations

A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems ChangeCompetencyWorks

Necessary for Success: A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education – CompetencyWorks

Competency Education Series: Policy Brief OneKnowledgeWorks

From Policy to Practice: How Competency-Based Education Is Evolving in New HampshireChristensen Institute


Additional Resources

Learner-Centered Instruction in ActionMaine Department of Education

What Is Competency-Based Education?Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Transforming EducationLindsay Unified School District

Iowa BIG – Animation OverviewCedar Rapids Community School District

MCL: Lori Schedules Her Learning PlanMass Customized Learning

Find more publications, videos and archived webinars focused on competency education at and

Sign up to receive monthly updates from CompetencyWorks with information about new resources, emerging innovations and upcoming events focused on competency education.

Subscribe to Plugged In, iNACOL’s daily email sharing media coverage of education innovation, new learning models, research, policy and trends from the field.

For a dedicated conference track exploring competency education and deep dive into the ways personalized learning is transforming schools across the country and around the world, register to attend the annual iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium.

Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update. This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures please see our Partner page.


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