Laurel Ridge Launches Competency-Based Education Programs

For Immediate Release:
September 2, 2015

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

knowledge 2 work

Laurel Ridge Community College is launching competency-based education this fall with a grant called Knowledge to Work. The College recently received approval for the program from its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).  Laurel Ridge is the first and currently the only institution in the SACSCOC region approved to offer 100% direct assessment, competency-based education. Direct assessment does not involve counting hours in the classroom. Instead, the focus shifts to documenting learning and the attainment of competencies in a way that makes college more affordable and accelerated. With competencies that are clearly aligned to job requirements, graduates of Knowledge to Work are more employable.

“This program represents a new way of helping individuals acquire the competencies to work in specific fields,” said Laurel Ridge President, Dr. Cheryl Thompson-Stacy.  “Even those already possessing a degree can leverage their existing knowledge to achieve a degree or certificate that makes them more marketable.”

Seven programs are offered this fall, including Associate of Applied Science degrees in Health Information Management and in Information Systems Technology; the Certificate in Office Systems Assistant; and Career Studies Certificates in Hospital Facility Coding, Information Processing Technician, Cyber Security, and Networking Specialist.  Apprenticeship programs are also offered through Knowledge to Work with personalized learning plans tied to competencies in plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.

“K2W lets students quickly earn credentials in high wage, high growth jobs related to IT and health information management without jumping through a lot of hoops,” explained the project’s Executive Director, Dr. John Milam.  “We meet students where they are and zero in on exactly what they need to succeed in their career paths.”  

Key features of the Knowledge to Work program include the use of personalized learning plans tied to competencies using free and low-cost online resources. Wrap-around student support services are provided by Career Coaches and an Adult Education Instructor.  Special veterans’ services are in place to translate military job experience into competencies and a Workforce Navigator connects directly with employers to ensure that Laurel Ridge students get the competencies they need for current job openings.

Knowledge to Work is funded in part by a TAACCCT grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. For more information, visit the program website at: 2 work


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.