In 2005, New Hampshire became the first state to begin the move toward competency based education instead merely counting the number of courses in which a student spent the required time and received a passing grade. The Legislature mandated that by the 2008/09 school year, high schools measure credit according to students’ mastery of course competencies rather than seat time.
Competency based education makes it possible for teachers to personalize learning to the needs of each student. Newfound Regional has jumped in with both feet and was featured recently on Competency Works, a leading website covering competency issues. Here are some excerpts:
…School Redesign Coordinator Jim LeBaron is quick to emphasize the dramatic cultural shift that is taking place within the building, but acknowledges that for educators: “seeing kids engaged and taking ownership of learning is a big win for getting educators on board.” The road to where they are now has not always been easy and LeBaron offered up several tips for schools looking to do similar work:
Having departments work together to determine overarching competencies within their disciplines is superior to individual subject areas developing their own competencies….[And] students are expected to choose how they will demonstrate mastery.
Building Capacity of Teacher Leaders
…The shift to competency education requires a major shift in belief structures not only for educators and students but for the broader community as well. While LeBaron candidly speaks to the bumps along the road, he is proud to acknowledge that “the whole tenor of the building has changed – students have a great deal of ownership over education and school in ways they didn’t have before.”