The 3 essentials of competency-based learning: progression, opportunity, support

Daniel J. Bakie Elementary School

One of the biggest challenges in public education is giving every student, who has different individual strengths, needs and learning styles, what they need to thrive in the classroom. Virgel Hammonds, a former teacher, and principal, writes in an article for KnowledgeWorks that competency-based learning could hold the key to helping students succeed by using their strengths to show what they know. 

Hammonds outlines the three essentials of competency-based learning:

-Progression on the learning continuum happens only when a student demonstrates mastery. Not at the end of a semester or at the end of the year, but when it happens. Not strictly in middle school or high school, but throughout the entire system. That’s not a classroom or even a school reform; that’s a system reform.

-Learners have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to engage with content in ways that are meaningful for them. If a student is playing a sport, how can she apply what she needs to demonstrate mastery in math, science, and any applicable content standards? If a student is learning at an afterschool job, how can he bring proof back to the classroom?

-Instructional supports and resources are provided that address the appropriate depth of knowledge for all learners and with all competencies. We need to look at what students are learning, to what depth of knowledge they have proven their competency, and what they’re ready for next. More importantly, all learners should be able to identify those key learning concepts as well.

Each school in New Hampshire has been using competency-based learning strategies in their classrooms for decades in ways that work best for them. For example, in Pittsfield, it meant that students could get real-world experience through extended learning opportunities–internships, work, or community service experiences like interning in a preschool, working at a local radio station, or working with the local police department.

Read the full article here.