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Developing Academic Competencies

Creating equitable expectations for all students by providing clear and consistent academic competencies

Overview

Henry County developed their own set of student competencies to help improve personalized learning for their students. Competency-based education is one of Henry County’s five tenets of personalized learning, as they believe students should progress through content based on demonstrated content mastery rather than seat time. The competencies are similar to a graduation profile in that they are intended to clearly illustrate for students what they should be able to do by the time they graduate. The creation of these consistent and clear competencies enables more equitable expectations for all students within the district.

There are four components of Henry County’s competencies:

  • Cross-curricular competencies: Henry County emphasizes that their students should have four cross-subject skills: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. (Henry County and Locust Grove title these "21st Century Skills.)
  • Content competencies: Henry County created intentionally broad competencies in each content area to focus on bigger ideas in learning. These broad competencies are built from the Georgia Standards of Excellence, and they enable schools and students to pursue content instruction more flexibly.
  • Performance Indicators: Performance indicators define what students need to be able to know and do in order to demonstrate mastery of a competency. The district created performance indicators with input from stakeholders to provide more specific learning goals within each competency. There are generally four to eight performance indicators per competency, and they are assessed via summative assessment, including performance tasks to indicate competency or mastery of the expectations determined on the scoring criteria rubric. 
  • Learning Targets: Teachers (or teams of teachers) create learning targets based on performance indicators. Learning targets communicate learning expectations in student-friendly terms. These are the most specific components of competencies and progress against these targets is tracked through formative, summative, and benchmark assessments.

Over a period of three years, starting in 2014, Henry County convened working groups made up of Henry County teachers, curriculum specialists, and community stakeholders to develop the competencies. The work included a series of two-day workshops, occurring each month from June through December. Henry County's planning and development of competencies was done in partnership with Great Schools Partnership, who advised them throughout the process.