• Competency Based Education at LRES

    Posted by Tina McCoy on 1/11/2018

    Guest Blogger - Princial Bryan Belanger! 


    Competency Based Education (CBE):
    The road ahead…



    Lamprey River Elementary School (along with the middle and high school) continue our work toward becoming a Competency Based District.  This work started over two years ago and will continue to evolve over the next few years.  As we regroup and move forward at LRES, we wanted to take some time this month to gauge teachers, paras and parents on their familiarity and understanding of competency based education.

     

    During the week of parent conferences we collected information by asking individuals in each group to rate their understanding of Competency Based Education on a scale of 1 (no idea) to 4 (expert).  Our survey was not particularly scientific, but it gave us some interesting information. The scores were tallied and averaged and these results may be helpful in moving forward. Teachers rated their understanding at 2.8, Paras 1.95 and Parents at 1.8.  This information leaves us with the question, “How can we increase familiarity and understanding of competency based education for all stakeholders?”  

     

    So here we go - the first of a series of articles to help share our progress and vision moving forward…..

     

    What is it?

    Competency based education is a model that allows students to progress through curricula (a curriculum) based on their mastery of clearly defined competencies. Using this model, students take as much or as little time as they need to understand the material.  This change shifts our focus from grades to student learning.  Feedback is quick and frequent, and it includes a progression from formative to summative assessments (“Formative: Given throughout the learning process, formative assessments seek to determine how students are progressing through a certain learning goal.  Summative: Given at the end of the year or unit, summative assessments assess a student's mastery of a topic after instruction”).  Using this personalized model, each student is working at their individual level in each subject area.  Imagine it as a learning progression, as you prove competency of a certain skill your instruction moves on to the next level (with or without other classmates).

     

    Where are we going?

    Lamprey River Elementary School teachers have spent many hours over the past two years writing, aligning and refining our competencies based on the educational standards defined by the NH Department of Education.   By analyzing and unpacking the core subject area - English Language Arts (Reading and Writing), Math, Science (Next Generation) and Social Studies (C3 Framework) - standards by grade level, our teachers have begun to build the framework for the pathways our students will take through their learning experience.  This work also includes our unified arts teachers, who have also been working on establishing competencies for their subject areas.

     

    In order for LRES to continue our transition to CBE, it is critical that we support teachers as they adjust instruction with the idea that they may have 18 students in their class all with different needs. This shift also puts a higher demand on intervention teachers and para-educators.  This will change the way traditional classes are organized, how we use technology and the integration of project-based activities where work is assessed and validated through tools like portfolios and presentations.

     

    What next?

    While teaching a class with varied academic needs is not a new practice for teachers at LRES, in order to successfully meet the additional demands created by the CBE model, it will be critical that we provide teachers with additional time to collaborate, observe and develop their curriculum.   These teams of teachers will also continue to spend time developing assessments (projects, tests, presentations, etc) that allow students to show their mastery of the skill and to track student progress through the competencies.  This work will likely lead into discussions about report cards, progress reports as well as intervention and enrichment.

     

    We hope this article brings a little more clarification on CBE and the future of learning and teaching at LRES!

     

    More Resources:

    NH Department of Education Competencies  https://www.education.nh.gov/innovations/hs_redesign/competencies.htm

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