Competency-Based Learning Introduction
Competencies are the cornerstone of personalized learning in Georgia, honoring the reality that in this age of readily available information, learning happens both inside and outside of classrooms. By prioritizing the most essential academic content and 21st Century skills (Henry County’s Four Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity) needed to be globally competitive for college, career and life, competency-based progression increases student ownership, creates multiple pathways to graduation, and ensures more students graduate prepared for jobs that have yet to be created. In the Henry County Schools, competency-based learning refers to a system of instruction, grading, and academic reporting that is based on students demonstrating they have learned the expected knowledge and skills as they progress through their education.
Content coordinators working with cadres of content-specific teachers from schools across the county developed the Henry County competencies. They extensively utilized the Georgia standards to develop competencies, performance indicators, and scoring criteria in each content area across all grades that reflect the most critical and enduring understandings.
In the classroom setting, competencies and performance indicators should be the foundation of instruction and assessment, regardless of the structure of instructional design of the lesson or unit. The scoring criteria provide the basis for balanced summative assessment (projects, performance tasks, or tests) to determine a student’s competency level. Teacher collaboration to examine student work is crucial to the success and fidelity of a competency-based learning system. If a student fails to meet expected learning standards, he/she receives additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve competency.
Competency-based learning fosters equity by holding all students to a common set of rigorous expectations, while providing flexibility in the way credit can be earned by allowing students to progress through content as they demonstrate mastery, regardless of time, pace, or place.