Recommended Reading

To better understand competency education, enabling policy and effective implementation, start with the following resources. You can find additional resources by accessing the Competency Works wiki.

Understanding Competency Education

  • Delivering on the Promise
    This book explores the journey of the Chugach School District, serving 214 students over 20,000 square miles in Alaska, as it began a fundamental redesign of how they would educate their students. With the courage to confront the fact that 90 percent of their students could not read at grade level and only one student in 26 years had graduate from college, Chugach focused their mission on ensuring that all students learn to high standards. The district engaged the community in establishing a performance-based approach, developing standards in ten content areas, new assessments, and modified reporting mechanisms. Chugach’s transformation gained them national attention, including the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award for organizational excellence.
  • A New Model of Student Assessment for the 21st Century
    This case study of the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Chicago shows how a low performing school became focused on graduation and college readiness and put its students on a track of success. Read about how YWLCS challenged the status quo, and discover how schools can improve secondary education by rethinking the way student achievement is structured.
  • Success is the Only Option:Designing Competency-based Pathways for Next Generation Learning
    Read about interviews and site visits with innovators to learn about how competency-based pathways re-engineer our education system.  This reading discusses the driving forces behind competency education and what stakeholders face as they try to implement policy regarding competency.

Understanding Personalization

  • Students at the Center
    Find great issue briefs summarizing research on topics such as Personalization in School; Mind, Brain, and Education; and Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice. You can also find videos and resources.
  • Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning by Charles Schwahn and Beatrice McGarvey
    This book explores approaches to personalizing and customizing learning. The authors guide readers in revisiting the assumptions of the traditional system and redirecting resources to students based on their personal learning trajectories.



  • It’s About Time—A Framework for Proficiency-based Teaching and Learning by Diane Smith for the Business Education Compact
    This workbook draws from the lessons learned in schools across Oregon that implemented proficiency-based strategies in their classrooms. The framework described in this workbook defines the critical elements of proficiency-based teaching and learning through a series of teacher and student rubrics.
  • Art and Science of Designing Competencies
    Learn about how to design and create competencies in a classroom, as well how to create the environment teachers need in order to implement these competencies successfully.

District and School Transformation

  • Case Studies of Three Districts in Maine
    Learn about how school districts, teachers and communities have explored the potential for customized and competency-based education. The Maine Department of Education have made a series of videos and case studies available to hep other districts prepare for their reform process.


  • Assessing Learning
    This article provides a great overview of different student-centered assessments that make students feel more engaged in their education. Teachers will find new ideas and resources to use in their classrooms, such as creating portfolios and using different online technology. This is an important read for schools looking for ways to vary and gain more knowledge from their assessments.

Management Information Systems

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