Understanding Competency Education & Evolving Grading Practices

Audiences: All Audiences
Levels: All Levels

Session Description

Are competencies and standards the same? How do you assess competencies? Why do we create rubrics and convert them to points? Should measurement of learning be punitive? In this session, we will dive deep into these questions by providing an alternative approach to traditional grading. Through a series of activities, participants will engage with the Learning What Matters competency model and leave the session with a fresh perspective on how three PA urban district schools assess students.

District Information

We are a network of schools in PA, ID, CO, and SC. We have two lab schools that we currently operate in Philadelphia and Allentown, PA. Our lab schools are 9-12 non-criteria public district schools. Our Philadelphia school is 400 students (100% receive free or reduced lunch). Our Allentown school is about 500 students (80% receive free or reduced lunch.

We have 6 affiliate schools with a total of 3000 students. All schools are non-criteria.

Thomas Gaffey

Thomas joined Building 21 after seven years as a 9th grade math teacher at Philadelphia’s School of the Future (SOF) where he utilized problem-based and technology-driven learning approaches to support students in tackling real-world problems. Thomas was also the Director of Educational Technology at SOF managing their one-to-one laptop program. As a Microsoft Innovative Educator master trainer and founder of What If Partners, LLC., Thomas has led professional development for teachers and school districts nationally. As the Chief Instructional Technologist and Building 21, Thomas co-created the Learning What Matters (LWM) Competency Framework and the Building 21 instructional model, developed a Google Apps-based prototyping system for data dashboards, and designed a competency-based LMS within the open source platform, Slate. He is now leading an expansion effort to help districts across the country use the Learning What Matters (LWM) competency framework to personalize education for students.


Additional Resources