New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry recently visited Oyster River Middle School in Durham, praising their work with competency education, according to Seacoast Online. The school was talking to Commissioner Barry about expanding competency, where students advance based on what they know rather than how long they’ve spent on a concept or chapter, to more classrooms.
Commissioner Barry talked about how competency helps students engage and helps teachers tailor learning to student needs:
“It’s the ability for a student to demonstrate what they know and to engage in their own learning process,” Barry said. “…What we’re learning from our students is it doesn’t have to be about grades. It has to be about they know that they’re learning something and they’re feeling good about that, so they want to go to the next step.
“It’s not about a test… It’s about any kind of assessment that really kind of helps you understand how you can focus or refocus instruction or how you’re doing in general in terms of overall program that you’re offering the students.”
Some classrooms at Oyster River Middle School have already switched to competency learning. Math teacher Aaron Ward is one of them:
“It really spreads the message as staff and as students that our goal is to really know the material,” said Ward.
There is discussion about taking the competency model district wide.
Teachers say that using these assessments reduces unhealthy competition, and encourages each student to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. It also helps the teachers personalize instruction by identifying areas where each student need help and where they need to be challenged more.
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