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 CompetencyWorks wiki.

Understanding Competency-Based Education

Understanding Personalization

Federal Policy

  • Advancing Competency-Based Pathways to College and Career Readiness
    This state policy framework, focused on graduation requirements, assessment, and accountability, is designed to assist states in building a policy structure that contributes to statewide adoption and implementation of competency-based pathways (CBP) that support all students in reaching college and career readiness, as defined by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
  • A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change
    In this report, Maria Worthen, iNACOL‘s Vice President for Federal and State Policy and Lillian Pace, ‎KnowledgeWorks’ Senior Director of National Policy, explore the ways that federal policymakers can become partners in the effort to redesign our education system around making sure students reach proficiency every step of the way towards college and career readiness.
  • Laying the Foundation for Competency Education: A Policy Guide for the Next Generation Educator Workforce
    Growing numbers of states and districts are embracing competency education, focusing on student mastery of critical competencies instead of seat-time requirements that communicate little about the quality of learning. This report by iNACOL and KnowledgeWorks Foundation explores our nation’s need for educator preparation and development systems that keep pace, aligning to create a profession that benefits from the same level of personalization that defines competency-based schools.
  • Off the Clock: Moving Education from Time to Competency by Fred Bramante and Rose Colby
    This book provides an in-depth look at New Hampshire’s journey towards a competency-based system. The authors provide personal reflections as well as detailed descriptions of the policy changes, stakeholder engagement, and implementation decisions.
  • Cracking the Code: Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-Based Learning
    This reading discusses the very important issue of turning state policy into successful practice. It addresses the need to have more flexible policies in order to create better practices in schools.


  • Inside Mastery Based High Schools: Profiles and Conversations
    A set of resources drawn from visits to six mastery-based high schools in 2014. Springpoint began this project to address a need for concrete examples of mastery-based learning in practice.
  • Maximizing Competency Education and Blended Learning: Insights from Experts
    In May 2014, CompetencyWorks brought together twenty-three technical assistance providers to examine their catalytic role in implementing next generation learning models, share each other’s knowledge and expertise about blended learning and competency education, and discuss next steps to move the field forward with a focus on equity and quality. This paper draws together the wide-ranging conversations from the convening to provide background knowledge for educators to understand what it will take to transform from traditional to personalized, competency-based systems that take full advantage of blended learning.
  • Blending Toward Competency: A closer look at blended learning in New Hampshire
    As the education field strives to differentiate and personalize learning to cater to each student, two related movements are gaining attention: competency-based education and blended learning. This white paper looks at how blended learning can support competency-based education and outlines findings from the field in New Hampshire.
  • Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education
    At some point, every school will find that they are stumbling over traditional grading systems. This paper is designed to help you as your district or school prepares to create grading practices that reinforce the culture of learning.
  • 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.
  • 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

State, District, and School Transformation

  • Implementing Competency Education in K-12 Systems: Insights from Local Leaders. This paper, based on conversations with educators, offers a comprehensive look at how districts across the country from Alaska to Maine have been transforming their districts from the time-based system to one that puts students and their learning in the center of all decisions.
  • Necessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education. An opportunity for state leaders to reflect upon the efforts of contemporaries around the country, this paper 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.
  • 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.
  • From Policy to Practice: How competency-based education is evolving in New Hampshire. In 2005, New Hampshire abolished the Carnegie unit—the core unit around which schools typically measure credit hours. In its place, the state mandated that all high schools measure credit according to students’ mastery of material, rather than time spent in class. This case study offers an overview of competency-based education and looks at the strategies and challenges of implementing competency-based education in New Hampshire.
  • New Hampshire’s Story of Transformation. This publication represents New Hampshire’s story—one of the successes and struggles to transform an entire education system from the bottom up rather than the top down—to promote ownership and nurture real and lasting change.


  • Assessment to Support Competency-Based Pathways
    A core tenet of competency-based pathways (CBP) is that accurate, credible and useful student assessment information plays an essential role in supporting learning. Assessments should be a meaningful learning experience for students, provide rich information to educators so they can provide targeted support to students, and send students and parents clear signals about students’ readiness for next steps.
  • 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

  • Roadmap for Competency-Based Systems by 2 Revolutions and CCSSO
    This roadmap explores a readiness progression in the key areas of Technology, Technology Policy, and Conditions for Implementation. The tool moves across a continuum from entry to transforming, and also shares examples from the field as illustrations of how next generation technologies are supporting the work within existing school models.
  • Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education
    This brief addresses information education technology, as it relates to competency education, detailing the classroom, district, and state-level requirements of a student-centered system. The authors of the report analyze the knowledge of what makes up an effective competency-based information system.
  • Innosight Institute on Western Governor’s University
    This Competency Works blog post discusses the excellent management systems Western Governor’s University uses to test and track the competencies of their students.
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