Gilford Middle School Competency Based Education (CBE)

As most of you know during our remote learning experience last spring we transitioned to “competency based education” here at the middle school. This is similar both to the “standards based education” at the elementary school and CBE at the high school. I wanted to take this time to refresh your memories about the move to CBE (and what it will look like) and to introduce this to new families to our school district.

Below are some frequently asked questions:

Why are we transitioning to CBE? - The New Hampshire Department of Education mandated that by 2015 all high schools should develop competencies for graduation. By 2017, all K-8 schools should develop competencies.

Which begs a second question: Seeing that it is 2020, are we lagging behind? - Not really. About half of middle schools in the state have already made the transition. After speaking with area schools that have already done this, they cautioned me to take our time and make sure that we get most of our “ducks in a row” before taking the next step; we have been working on developing these competencies over the past couple of years.

What is the goal of CBE? - The primary goal of CBE is to increase transparency for students, parents and teachers. It no longer averages “the hodgepodge” of accumulated points. Instead, it clearly communicates what each student knows and is able to do according to content competencies/standards.

How is feedback different in CBE? - Traditional grading averages all of the work and other subjective factors (effort, extra credit, participation, behavior, homework completion, etc.). CBE removes these factors and focuses on student learning. CBE assesses a student’s overall work, using the most recent evidence. What this really tells us is what a student has learned, rather than an average of accumulated points.

Why are grades not strictly averaged in CBE? - Students are to be assessed on the content competencies/standards in a variety of ways and have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their level of mastery. This allows for a clear picture of current student achievement. An averaged grade doesn’t give an authentic representation of what a student has learned and is currently able to do.

What if students are struggling to meet a competency? - It is critical to empower students to keep track of their own growth and provide them with multiple opportunities to make progress towards meeting a competency. Through the use of rubrics, differentiated instruction, and continuous feedback, all students will be able to demonstrate growth in their learning. When students do not meet a competency they will be given the opportunity to create a plan with their teacher to continue working and take multiple/or alternative assessments. For some students this will mean putting in additional time; during the school day, after school, or at home.

How will student achievement be communicated to students and parents? - Instead of using “traditional” letter grades, we will use the verbiage in the table below:

Click Here to View Table

The student consistently and independently applies learned competencies in multiple ways and is working above grade level standards.

By which method will parents and students monitor progress? - All stakeholders will be able monitor progress towards mastery via our online portal, Alma. We will not need to share information in the same method as last Spring.

Specifically, what are the competencies to be met in each course? - Please refer below to the competencies being covered in each class.

Click Here to View Competencies