Competency Drivers

An implementation drivers diagram portrayed as a triangle with the words "compentency drivers" highlighted

Competency drivers are activities to develop, improve, and sustain practitioners’, administrators’, and support staff’s ability to put programs and innovations into practice to benefit the students. 

The four competency drivers include selection, training, coaching, and fidelity assessment. Collectively they can effectively provide professional development that makes a difference for both practitioners and students. 

Selection — Effective staffing requires the specification of required knowledge, skills, and abilities that relate to program-specific needs. This means specifying skills and abilities that are prerequisites for the work ahead and determining those that will be developed once the person is hired. 

  • The criteria initially are used to select candidates among those already employed in a school or district who will be among the first to implement the innovation.  Subsequently, each new hiring opportunity is an opportunity to select with implementation in mind. 
  • Once requirements have been identified, schools and districts must identify methods for recruiting candidates who possess these skills and abilities and protocols for interviewing and criteria for selecting teachers, practitioners, administrators, and even program or practice leads. 

Training/Professional Learning — Teachers, practitioners, administrators, and staff need to learn when, how, and with whom to use new skills and practices. Training should: 

  • provide information related to the theory and underlying values of the program or innovation
  • use training processes grounded in adult learning theory to actively engage participants 
  • introduce the components of and rationales for key practices 
  • provide opportunities to practice and re-practice new skills and receive feedback in a safe and supportive learning environment 

Coaching — Most new skills can be introduced in training but must be practiced and mastered on the job. Coaching is the key. Districts and schools should: 

  • Develop a system for coaching that ensures a commitment and structure to coaching processes and tools
  • actively develop and implement coaching service delivery plans that detail what is being coached, what evidence-based coaching strategies are being employed, and the logistics of a coaching cycle 
  • use multiple sources of data to provide feedback to practitioners and always include direct observation 
  • use coaching data and information from coaches to inform training improvements and improve organizational supports 

Fidelity — Using the evidence-based program or innovation as intended is both a driver or facilitator of effective implementation and an outcome of fully engaging all of the drivers.  This means that the entire organization is accountable for instructional or program quality.  Teachers and other practitioners are not in it alone. Districts and schools should develop and implement transparent fidelity assessments, use multiple sources of data to assess fidelity, institute positive recognition so assessments are seen as an opportunity to improve fidelity and use fidelity assessment data to improve practice fidelity, organizational and system supports. 

SISEP Video Series: Voices from the Field - Competency Drivers Video 1

Dr. Jennifer Coffey, Education Program Specialist with the Office of Special Education Programs provides an overview of the Competency Drivers.  Click to Tweet