SAU 16 Implements Competency Based Education Practices for Increased Learning Opportunities


New Hampshire SAU 16
Dr. David Ryan, Superintendent
30 Linden Street
Exeter, NH 03833

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018

Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

SAU 16 Implements Competency Based Education Practices for Increased Learning Opportunities

SAU 16 created a vision for their graduates surrounding competency based education. (Courtesy Photo SAU 16)

EXETER — Teachers throughout SAU 16 are implementing a new approach to teaching and learning that is focused on providing a customized educational experience for all students.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, teachers and students will implement a number of prototypes inside and outside the classroom surrounding competency based education.

Over the summer, educators from Exeter, Portsmouth, Oyster River, Hampton and Newmarket came to together for a three day summer institute on July 10-13 that was focused on competency based education. The group of 100 teachers, administrators and educational leaders partnered with 2Revolutions to expand their knowledge and to create prototypes that will be used throughout the year.

SAU 16 is no stranger to competency based learning. The district has been making the transition since 2011, beginning with a vision for graduates that serves as compass to guide SAU 16’s work going forward.

“The key to competency based learning, and what we’ve been working on for the last seven years, is providing students with the type of experience that allows them to take ownership of their education,” Superintendent David Ryan said. “What we hope to accomplish with the prototypes is to give students opportunities to build the skills they need to demonstrate competency.”

Today, students in grades nine through 12 began working on a prototype, “How can we improve life and learning at Exeter High School?” to determine what the school community would like to change to improve the overall culture within the building. To do so, over the course of the year, students will create and distribute surveys, analyze data and make a presentation to staff with their conclusions.

Students who were selected for this prototype by their teachers will work across all content areas as part of their curriculum. The group represents a wide range of ages, levels and abilities.

“With this prototype, we want students to have a voice in what they’re doing,” said Assistant Superintendent Christopher Andriski. “The common goal we have here is how do we improve all of our school districts from the student’s perspective. At the same time, this works toward competency based education, looking at whether or not students asked the right questions, and how those questions drove them into the next steps of their own learning.”

At the middle school, teachers will be looking at a new approach to scheduling, where students in grades six through eight can take classes based on their levels of competency as opposed to being restricted to those designated for their grade.

The goal is to create a schedule that is flexible enough to allow students to move between classes from one month to the next, or every quarter, if needed.

“We’re trying to personalize instruction for all students,” Assistant Superintendent Andriski said. “Traditionally, students are assigned to a class solely based on their age.  In a competency based approach, we want to assign students to classes that focus on improving and enhancing each student’s skills at a personalized level.”

While working on these two prototypes at the middle and high school, teachers also have an individual goal of prototyping something in their own classroom that’s focused on competency based education and student centered learning.