Teams of educators from across South Carolina gathered at TransformSC’s Learning Institute in Columbia yesterday to learn from national experts about one of the newest innovations in public education. The topic for discussion was competency-based progression – an individualized system where students are awarded credit based on mastery of knowledge rather than the physical time spent in classroom.
“Competency-based progression means that students advance individually based on mastery of the content rather than as a group at a pace set by the teacher,” said Dr. Peggy Torrey, director of TransformSC. “In a competency-based system, the needs of every student can be met. Students who are struggling receive the support and extra time they need, and those students who are working at an average or more advanced pace remain challenged by being able to move onto new content when they are ready.”
The event was held at Ridge View High School in Columbia, and seats were offered free of charge to the general public. The maximum 90 seats were reserved well in advance of the event, and many signed up for a waiting list.
“We had teams from twenty-one school districts and seven higher education institutions with us today,” said Betty Bagley, TransformSC liaison, State Department of Education. “In terms of the national landscape, South Carolina is just emerging as a state moving towards competency-based education. But the momentum we have through the hard work and leadership of our educators is incredible.”
Gene Wilhoit, director of the Center for Innovation at the University of Kentucky, spoke to the crowd about changing to a competency-based system and the implications to state policy. A team from Sanborn School District in New Hampshire provided instruction and best practices during breakout sessions on how to implement a competency-based approach. The day concluded with Judy Beard, principal of Whittemore Park Middle School, in Conway, South Carolina, a school that experienced a dramatic turnaround after implementing the new model three years ago.
The event was the second of three TransformSC Learning Institutes scheduled for the 2015 – 2016 school year. The third and final Institute for the 2015-2016 academic year, “Blending Soft Skills with Digital Instruction,” will be held on Feb. 4, 2016. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
TransformSC, an education initiative of the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, is a collaboration of business leaders, educators, students, parents and policy makers working to transform the public education system so that every student graduates prepared for careers, college and citizenship. There are currently 37 schools and 3 districts participating in the TransformSC network. For more information, visit http://www.sccompetes.org/transformsc.