Roadmap for Competency-based Systems

District and School Leader Pathway






Technology to REALIZE Next Generation Systems

Learn about the technology specifications, tools, and tool combinations that support a move toward a competency-based system. These high quality tools can be leveraged in different configurations at various levels of this progression.


What jobs do we need to do that technology can help make more efficient? How does it work or integrate with our current grading and/or assessment system? How will this help us implement College and Career Readiness Standards? How will it align with state reporting? What will make things more efficient for our teachers?
The technology specifications needed to support the systemic shift to a competency-based education system is substantial. Explore the following questions within each column to track where your school or district is on the continuum and ideas to move you further towards the transformation you seek. ▾

Are you using your technology systems in the following ways?

  • As electronic gradebooks (for end of year tests and grade point averages), and to track demographic data, attendance and credits.
  • Systems are linear and time-based; unable to track mastery and competencies.
  • Systems are adult-managed as opposed to student-directed.

These items typically define your technology system choices:

  • The need to develop competencies has been identified but not acted on.

Are you using your technology systems in the following ways?

  • Educators use systems to create personalized learning plans for each student based on student data profiles.
  • Educators use systems to create and track formative and summative assessments and access student performance data.
  • Systems provide some choice of curriculum resources for both students and teachers
  • Systems track daily progress of student mastery.

These items typically define your technology system choices:

  • To facilitate the flexibility needed for implementing a competency-based learning model at scale.
  • To begin to connect the multiple technology systems used across the learning environment to glean data from an array of sources.
  • To create student-level data about progress in reaching proficiency on specific competencies and standards with consistency and reliability.
  • Infrastructure testing might be conducted through The EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit made up of 50 businesses, associations, and organizations working to ensure students and teachers have the 100 Mbps of Internet infrastructure needed for digital learning. The organization offers free broadband testing and technical assistance, through its free School Speed Test.

Types of systems used include:

Are you using your technology systems in the following ways?

  • Systems facilitate data-driven decisions in the classroom level daily. Access to data leads to continuous improvement of instruction and daily progress in learning.
  • Systems focus on student profiles of content standards, competencies, skills, and proficiency levels.
  • Systems allow students develop and track their personalized learning plans in partnership with educators.
  • Systems provide access to formative and summative performance data.
  • Systems help teachers quickly identify students who are not meeting competencies, and schools can identify teachers who need help.

These items typically define your technology system choices:

  • Promotion of strategies driven by the interoperability of systems in use across your school or district.
  • Adoption of technology systems that chart levels of proficiency, compile portfolios of student work, offer pathways to competency, and capture performance assessments for each standard or competency.
  • Adoption of the National Broadband Plan to expand broadband connectivity.
  • Utilization of 100 Mbps of bandwidth for every 1,000 students/faculty.

Types of systems used include:

Are you using your technology systems in the following ways?

  • Systems are fully integrated and driven by student mastery of competencies with multiple pathways for learning and tracking.
  • Educators use systems to track continuous and live data, which facilitates all decisions at the student, educator, and administrative level and allows for differentiation and personalization of learning.
  • Educators use systems to design and develop competency and/or standards-based personalized learning plans, which chart learning pathways for all students.
  • Systems allow for options on how students can demonstrate learning.
  • Teachers use systems to create streamlined assessment plans that utilize standards or competency-based, proficiency-level student data over time, instead of wiping the student competency database clean at the end of the year.

These items typically define your technology system choices:

  • Cohesive strategy to support and implement new and emerging systems that allow for interoperability, accessibility, and integrated interfaces.
  • Fully aligned system for competency-based learning data collection that maps student progress and is ready for federal, state, district, school, teacher, parent, and student consumption.
  • Fully supported accountability systems by state that examine student-level proficiency data, collect productivity of amount of learning per unit of time, and analyze patterns of individual student growth over time.
  • Use 1 Gbps of bandwidth for every 1,000 students/faculty.

Types of systems used include:

Sample Tools and Tool Combinations
In this section, we are outlining the key jobs that need to get done that technology tools can support. Within these jobs, we reference tool types that can address those jobs. The use of those tools will expand at each level until districts use the tools to their full competency-based education capacity. ▾
Systems in this stage include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Combinations of open source tools are utilized to personalize learning and enhance curriculum.
  • Tools are teacher/adult-centric and used for grading, management, and resource sharing
Core jobs that technology can enable in this stage include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Integrate Data
  • Assess Students
  • Produce Data Analysis
  • Showcase Authentic Work
  • Manage Learning and Assessment Resources
Systems in this stage take competency based learning to scale across the district. Systems are more complex and more features are used than in the Emerging level. Core jobs that technology can enable in this stage include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Integrate Data
  • Assess Students
  • Produce Data Analysis
  • Showcase Authentic Work
  • Manage Learning and Assessment Resources
  • Manage Student Data
  • Adapt Content
Systems in this stage are capable of transforming districts and the entire state. Data at this level is massive and requires systems for support. Systems include but are not limited to the following:
  • Integrate Data
  • Assess Students
  • Produce Data Analysis
  • Showcase Authentic Work
  • Manage Learning and Assessment Resources
  • Manage Student Data
  • Adapt Concept

Policy to ENABLE Next Generation Systems

Review a range of technology-focused policies and practices that enable a move toward next generation systems.

Tech Use Standards

Are we aligned with national best practice?
Policies and guidelines that support the use of technology in districts/schools. ▾
  • Identify the technology policies for appropriate content and technology use for students, staff, and families; as well as policies around broadband security, support, and needs.
  • Consider visiting other schools or districts that have implemented a balance of security and innovation protocols for students, families, and teachers.
  • Draft the policies and strategies stating acceptable content and technology use to ensure responsible digital citizenship with opportunities for relearning and stewardship.
  • Begin drafting protocols for families around online learning expectations based on research and visits to other districts engaged in similar work. Protocols might include: parent training; pledges; and insurance policies for technology hardware in and out of school.
  • Implement the technology policies needed to respond to violations or perceived network management issues, along with the policies for acceptable content and technology use.
  • Implementation comprehensive protocols for families around online learning expectations.
  • The policies and strategies stating acceptable content and use of technology in schools are thoroughly and effectively implemented at scale. Process is in place for violators, and security protocols exist for network management.
  • Positive feedback and response from families in regard to technology protocols and family expectations and training.
Use of Open Education Resources
Unlike proprietary content, which is privately owned, open education resources (OERs) are free, open-source materials that can be accessed and utilized to enhance learning experiences. Using OERs to enrich and personalize learning based on students' needs is an important component of next generation learning systems. ▾
  • Early and unstructured use of OERs to support instruction, student learning, and/or professional development.
  • Stakeholders in the school and district are often exploring OERs on an individual or class-basis without a systematic effort or plan.
  • No school or district-wide portal exists for accessing OERs across the learning system.
  • Initial planning to create an educator portal for sharing and accessing OERs.
  • OERs are used, although not yet routinely or consistently across learning environments.
  • Full engagement of OERs to support instruction and student learning and/or professional development.
  • Robust use of an educator portal for sharing and accessing OERs.
  • OER strategies exist for integration with multiple software instances across the district and at multiple grade levels.
Privacy and Security
Protecting the privacy of individuals in schools and ensuring all material is appropriate and educational is critical to implementing a competency-based learning system. Here’s what you should keep in mind at each point in the continuum. ▾
  • Initial conversations amongst stakeholders about local (state/district) formal polices for privacy and security.
  • Consider the use of various filtering systems that block content and its purpose and impact.
  • Development of school-wide policies to address innovation, data collection through the lens of privacy, and security.
  • Based on feedback from stakeholders, begin to eliminate filters for teachers that impact data use and instruction.
  • Knowledge of and full compliance with federal laws affecting privacy and security.
  • Policy framework and consistent strategy for continual revision of privacy and security policies that arise in data systems.
  • Knowledge of better filters and tiers of data use for educators versus students.
  • Consistent communication with key stakeholders about the privacy and security policies.
  • Strategy to normalize around terms and standards for data use.
  • Satisfactory protocols and prototypes developed to address innovation and use of data collection.
  • Multiple social media sites are open and accessible, and student/parent use protocols are common including discipline language for cyber-bullying.
  • Fully aligned policy framework and cohesive and integrated strategy to continually revise policies to address the privacy and security of data systems, while being conscious of better filters and tiers of use for educators versus students.
  • Fully normalized around terms and standards for data use.
  • Robust plan to educate students, families, and educators around appropriate use of technology.
  • Fully developed and utilized protocols and prototypes developed to address innovation and use-of-data collection.
  • Integrated and secure single-portal log-in systems (closed-fence systems) for all student data.
  • Social media sites are encouraged and frequently used for connection and collaboration around student learning.
Broadband Access
Having high speed Internet in place is critical for the success of next generation systems. Find your school, district, or state on the continuum and determine what the next steps should be. ▾
  • Identified the need to raise awareness of broadband access across district and other community centers.
  • Begin conversations around broadband cost assumptions and implications on budget.
  • Initial strategy developed with local providers to assess broadband access within district, schools, community centers, and neighborhoods.
  • Broadband access is set as a clear priority and broadband cost assumptions are deemed as high priorities within the budget process.
  • Middle mile broadband is starting to emerge as a priority for the town or community. Several locations are testing use.
  • Dynamic goals are set for the expansion of broadband access to homes.
  • Active promotion of full broadband access within all district schools is implemented.
  • Broadband costs are assumed within budget process (and supplemented with federal and state dollars for support).
  • Integrated initiative with community, business, and Internet providers to develop strategy for broadband access in all community spaces such as libraries, afterschool centers, and community centers.
  • Mandated broadband access as the enabling innovation to support transformation of all schools.
  • Early testing has begun and funding allocation for last mile connectivity to the home.
  • Multiple middle mile hubs exists on schools buses, at laundromats, and/or community centers as a part of school/district planning and supports.

Capacity to IMPLEMENT Next Generation Systems

Explore the conditions-including leadership, professional development, infrastructure, public will, and resources/resource planning-necessary for successful technology systems’ implementation across this progression.


How do I get started?
Readiness for leveraging technology as a critical enabler of driving systemic change. ▾
Decision Making Structure
  • Technology acquisition is centralized - schools take the lead on technology implementation/ acquisition from central office.

  • Current leadership skill set around technology is focused around basic functions - email, word processing, etc.
  • Leadership plans for technology deployment are limited to remediation or targeted interventions.
  • There are few active goals for technology usage.

Diffusion of Innovation
  • Schools heavily rely on internal personnel to manage systems/tools, train and support staff in use.
  • Limited culture of prototyping or rapid experimentation; identified need to cultivate innovation culture.
  • Dedicated technology personnel focus on hardware, not instructional integration.

  • Leaders identify need to learn from best practices in other districts and schools.
  • Resources allocated for student content are focused on textbook acquisition/replacement rather than an array of student-facing materials (print, online, etc.).
Decision Making Structure
  • Schools encouraged by central office to explore different technologies independently.

  • Opportunities for modeling best practices and technology use created at district- and school-level events in and outside of school, such as at community events, meetings, etc.
  • Initial district-level initiatives begin to train school leaders in new technologies and technology integration skills.

Diffusion of Innovation
  • Blend of technology management by the school with outside services.
  • A shift in focus from exclusively hardware to the impact of hardware on teaching.
  • Initial questions of assessment systems by schools and identified need to explore other technology-enabled options.
  • Initial teacher trainings on technology and web-based tools and initial and sporadic implementation.

  • Initial shift in grading policies to include growth and reflect outcome-based plans.
  • School leaders begin to examine device policies.
  • While the majority of resources still focus on textbook acquisition, initial district policy changes allow for an array of student-facing resources.
Decision Making Structure
  • School leaders independently and actively begin to embed new technologies into schools for instructional and curricular needs.


Diffusion of Innovation
  • "Train-the-trainer" models developed by districts for school technology leaders.
  • Implemented district-developed web-based support to drive professional training and relevant reference materials.
  • Strategic school plans developed within districts to address technology integration and tools needed for student achievement.

  • Consistent professional development plan reflects critical integration of technology in competency-based education implementation.
  • District/ school leaders actively develop policies for measurement standards of effective use of technology in the classroom.
  • District policies actively promote technology as a viable option for textbook replacement.
Decision Making Structure
  • School leaders have fully implemented model of learning technologies and have a set of tools and platforms they use and support, as well as a process for deciding on new tools.

  • Priorities are clearly based on data and what leaders are learning from the use of learning management systems and cloud-based solutions.
  • Leadership meets regularly to determine technology use efficacy and adjusts based on the data around student outcomes and teacher impact.

Diffusion of Innovation
  • Leadership has designed a variety of plans for users at all levels-parents, teachers, students, etc.-to implement their work by leveraging technology with clearly defined objectives and measurable outcomes.
  • Fully transparent plan for assessment of teachers as it relates to technology and use of short-cycle innovation processes.

  • An innovation policy is added at the district and school levels to encourage experimentation. Innovation and failing forward are expected.
  • Results are reviewed quarterly, and cohesive policy enables pilot and test projects to scale based on successful student/teacher outcomes.
  • Regular business planning seminars are conducted to expand technology footprint.
  • External experts are consulted to increase student access as technologies change and adapt.

Professional Development (PD) Needs

How should I be thinking about the professional development needed for it? How do I ensure my staff is ready?
Supporting technology adoption to drive instructional change. ▾
  • Identified need to have PD address individual teacher needs.
  • PD is still system-wide, targeting broad objectives, however, it's beginning to address individual teacher needs.
  • District/ school leaders begin to explore technology, including exposure to competency-based learning tools
  • Initial system-wide training on technology tools, such as mobile devices, and their attributes to support innovation.
  • PD strategy often includes blended professional learning options including webinar, and synchronous and asynchronous online solutions.
  • PD is integrated, targeting broad objectives while also addressing individual teacher needs.
  • Robust system-wide training on technology tools.
  • PD is often also socially enabled by using professional learning networks to communicate and collaborate.
  • PD strategy is comprehensive, with in-house specialist(s) focused on a tiered PD plan for users at district or school levels to help fill gaps in technical knowledge.
  • PD is tied to individual teacher plans; PD can be completed anytime, anywhere, and requires evidences of shifted practice.
  • PD shifts include communications agenda on student contracts and parent engagement around competency-based learning.
  • Clear requirements for school leaders to be trained/exposed to technology tools.
  • Multiple, focused professional learning communities exist across the district to communicate and collaborate across multiple topics and strands

Information Technology (IT) Planning

Do we have a five year plan for technology implementation?
Building the right organizational and physical structures to support your next generation system. ▾
  • IT planning focuses on managing existing hardware requirements for the district

Perform a fit-gap analysis and determine the gap between the current desired states for the following:

  • Classroom hardware decisions (i.e., student and teacher laptops or tablets, and other hardware and accessories).
  • Wireless infrastructure: access points, routers, cabling, and cabling systems.
  • Internet access: capacity, filtering, redundancy, growth plan, home access, and student 4G wireless.
  • Servers: determine in-building server strategy (servers versus cloud, or combination of both).

Perform a fit-gap analysis and determine the gap between the current desired states for the following:

  • Determine insurance needs.
  • Develop five-year bandwidth growth assumptions.
  • Refresh cycles are done along with annual audits.
  • A learning agenda is created along with results from prototyping; school boards and the community are invited in as designers for identified gaps.
  • Leadership receives training on running a 24/7-access district/school.
  • Leadership learns how to flex supports to enable technology on buses and community centers to support anytime, anywhere learning. There is a focus on cached materials and software when no access is available.
  • Social and mobile help desks are established for technology support; students are a part of peer-review help desks.

IT Infrastructure

How should I think about the infrastructure needs associated with this?
Here's what to consider around development and management of the right physical structure to support your next generation system.
  • Identified the need to expand broadband access.
  • Identified the need to build wireless hubs.
  • Infrastructure is set up for support devices — two to five connected multimedia student computers available per classroom.
  • At least one connected multimedia student lab or mobile cart is available.
  • Students have scheduled access to competency-based education technologies.
  • Broadband connection for one computer in the classroom.
  • Infrastructure is set up for support devices — six or more connected multimedia student computers available per classroom.
  • Students have scheduled access to a broader range of competency-based education technologies.
  • Infrastructure is set up to support all devices within the classrooms and throughout the school building.
  • Multiple multimedia student labs or mobile carts are available within each school.
  • Students have unlimited site-based access to a broader range of competency-based education technologies.
  • School has bring your own device (BYOD) or leased technology options.
  • Active engagement around financial planning based on BYOD assessments and configurations of leased devices.
  • General technology hardware support is offered across multiple devices.
  • Students and parents are given minimum specifications list along with expectations for how content is delivered and accessed.
  • Routine systems tests and technology audits are held.

Public Will

How do I prepare to educate my board and community? How do I begin to engage families about this shift?
Meaningful engagement with families and other external stakeholders to support the move to a next generation system. ▾
  • Early stage engagement with families and the community as it relates to technology to support personalized learning.
  • Initial articulation by schools and/or districts about the role of technology in a competency-based learning system.
  • Occasional outreach to families and community in the form of website notices or emails.
  • Some engagement with unions as partners in the process with some key expectations for the work outlined.
  • Regular stakeholder outreach done through the web, community meetings and forums with families, union partners, and other key stakeholders addressing the purpose of competency-based education, and the implications of the shift.
  • Frequent engagement with unions as partners in the process with expectations for the work designed together.
  • Comprehensive articulation by districts/schools about the role of technology in the teaching and learning agenda.
  • Frequent outreach via numerous means – social media, digital and print materials, mobile texting, emails, newsletters and regularly scheduled forums and community events.
  • Annually update documents on district technology policy and the role of technology to support teaching and learning in a competency-based system.
  • Active, regular engagement with families and district and state partners, as well as higher education communities, to outline the goals and logistics of competency-based education, with a focus on understanding and embracing a new kind of transcript.
  • Active promotion of a new competency-based education transcript with clear analysis of how it translates from a traditional transcript.
  • Union or boards serving on work teams regarding technology planning.


How can I plan for the budget implications of this shift?
Proactively planning for how to implement and scale the work from a resource perspective. ▾
  • Knowledge of an array of funding streams to support technology implementation (state, district, and school-based for longitudinal data systems, hardware, software, professional development, etc.).
  • Begin to leverage outside funding (different state, federal, private corporate, and philanthropic resources) to support technology implementation.
  • Knowledge of alternative funding structures not based on seat time.
  • Consistent plan to leverage outside funding to support technology implementation.
  • Plans to structure funding not based on student seat time.
  • Initial strategy around funding flexibility to fund technology as an enabling teaching and learning resource, as opposed to a supplemental line item to support online content, e-books, and open educational resources, in addition to textbooks exclusively.
  • Implementation of plans to structure funding not based on student seat time; begin to shift from average daily attendance to a cohesive strategy to consider anytime, anywhere student learning as the driver for funding (i.e., online or field-based learning).
  • Active use of funding flexibility for resources to support an array of student content—online content, e-books, and open educational resources.
  • Integrative strategy to structure base funding on students rather than organizations, which allows dollars to follow individual students.
  • Develop partnerships with local tech and Internet providers to receive discounted rates and bulk purchasing power at the state or district level.
  • Establish return on investment (ROI) model for identifying tangible learning objectives for each state/district initiative, and cohesive strategy to track and manage success; actively calculate ROI on educational seed investment as a driver for future allocation based on success.