Skip to content
Aurora Institute

Building Leader Capacity to Transform K-12 Education to Student-Centered Learning

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Susan Patrick, Dale Frost, Maria Worthen, Natalie Truong

Issue(s): State Policy, Develop Educator Capacity

In this blog series we are exploring what it would take to move toward a future state of education that is purpose-built for student-centered learning. Moving toward a competency-based education model requires fundamental shifts in the systems, structures and assumptions that the traditional model of education is rooted in. We need bold leadership to transform K-12 education systems and policy. We need to build collaborative and distributed leadership at all levels of the education system to lead this transformation.

Why Building Capacity to Lead Change is Important

There is a lack of attention in state policy to modernizing teacher and leader credentialing systems, licensing, professional development, preparation programs and ultimately, developing competency-based pathways for the next generation education workforce. States have an important opportunity to scale and implement student-centered learning environments that meet the needs of students and communities by investing in and supporting change leaders.

There needs to be an intentional process to identify, recruit and develop leaders in the field of personalized, competency-based education. Collaboration is necessary to create competencies for educational leadership and to design development and recruitment strategies that will attract and retain a diverse cohort of next generation of education leaders. Policymakers can take up the mantle of change leader themselves, and in doing so, can engage with students, parents and communities to collaboratively shape the vision for student success.

State Policy Action Steps for Building the Capacity to Lead Change

State policymakers could consider ways to create a pipeline of change leaders to implement and scale student-centered learning models. States can begin this work by considering the following action steps:

  • Action #1: Identify the competencies leaders need to transform to competency-based education systems.
  • Action #2: Convene a working group to examine pre-service, training, licensure and certification issues and barriers for education leadership and what steps need to be taken to lead the shift to competency-based education.
  • Action #3: Commit to ensuring that educational leadership development systems are designed to produce change leaders dedicated to advancing equity through transformation to next generation school models, and give consideration to recruiting and supporting diverse education change leaders.
  • Action #4: Examine the challenges and opportunities for preparation programs to modernize their offerings to support competency-based systems.
  • Action #5: Fund pilots for developing and scaling innovative leadership preparation models.
  • Action #6: Create multiple pathways for licensure and certification that are competency based.
  • Action #7: Work with the accrediting agencies to recognize new skills needed for competency-based education systems in the standards and accreditation process.

Results From Building Capacity to Lead Change

State policymakers have an important role to play in creating a new pipeline of leaders advancing equity at each level of the system, who are willing to do what it takes to ensure that all students can succeed. State leaders can incentivize the development of emerging leaders and affirm and support current leaders working to transform learning.

Stay tuned to the next blog post where we will dig into how states can develop a pipeline of change leaders prepared to make the vision of the future state a reality.

This is the fifteenth article in the Current to Future State series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report titled: Current to Future State: Issues and Action Steps for State Policy to Support Personalized, Competency-Based Learning.

Learn more: