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Aurora Institute

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New Report Guides IT for Competency Education: Re-Imagining Our Schools Means Re-Engineering Our Information Systems

CompetencyWorks report examines an IT enterprise architecture for competency-based education

WASHINGTON, Feb 20, 2013 – CompetencyWorks and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) released a new report today, Re-Engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education. As more states move away from education systems built on factory-era, seat-time designs and toward competency-based, personalized learning environments for students, school information technology (IT) systems must be re-engineered to focus and report competency-based information on each student’s demonstrated, true progress in real time.

“Our school information systems need to become more intelligent around student learning and competency development. Today’s systems need to do more than act as electronic grade books with
end-of-year test scores,” said Susan Patrick, President and CEO of iNACOL. “We need to build smart, mature information technology systems that provide students and teachers with detailed levels of proficiency over time. Advanced IT systems are needed that integrate with personalized digital learning resources, support students by building e-portfolios of demonstrated knowledge and skills, and offer multiple pathways to competency. New systems must capture meaningful assessments down to the level of the academic standard.”

A competency-based education model fundamentally changes the way the educational enterprise is organized around student needs, and thus must have a dynamic IT system to support it.  Re-Engineering Information Technology analyzes and examines components and elements of effective competency-based information systems. The report stresses design issues for competency education systems to keep student learning at the core, interoperability requirements, and the importance of using an enterprise architecture approach that enables schools and districts to effectively manage their institutions with support of IT.

“Key to student-centered education is the design of information systems that move beyond the typical capabilities required by 19th century school models. We need more intelligent information systems to help manage the data on how students demonstrate proficiency along a learning trajectory based on competencies,” said Liz Glowa, the report’s author. “The core of competency education is this demonstration of learning, but most IT systems have been developed for traditional teacher-centric and course-based instructional models. Mature information systems must work for every education stakeholder in order to understand profiles of learning, trends, and more precise measurement of student success.”

Technical characteristics of this student-centered approach as outlined in the report include:

  • providing transparency into what students know and need to accomplish
  • enabling robust user tracking and reporting of performance
  • offering tools for differentiated instruction and curriculum
  • supporting options on how students can demonstrate learning

Based on interviews and research, the ideas in Re-Engineering Information Technology build upon the lessons learned in analyzing information systems developed by competency education innovators, best practices of systemic approaches to information management, and emerging opportunities. The paper is designed for readers to find those issues that are of most interest to them in their role and be used to catalyze strategies, support new competency-based instructional models, and inform decision making for continuous improvement.

To download a copy of the report, please visit

For more information about CompetencyWorks and competency-based education, please visit

SOURCE International Association for K-12 Online Learning

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