The district has adopted a competency based model of instruction that targets specific learner needs based upon diagnostic and benchmark assessments. Advanced learners will move through the curriculum at an accelerated rate, freeing them to pursue advance courses or dual enrollment prior to graduation. Learners requiring further support will receive additional instruction, specific to gaps identified in their learning. These learners will also have opportunities to pursue advanced courses and dual enrollment, based upon demonstrated levels of readiness.
The Susquehanna Township School District is one many districts utilizing a competency based model for learning, as it requires a shift in the structure of a traditional, industrialized model of instruction, a model that has been in place for over 126 years. Competency based instruction is aligned with PA Core Standards and eligible content. Competency based learning is learner-centered and requires that every learner is not only exposed to rigorous concepts but also demonstrates an expected level of proficiency before moving on. Competency based learning requires that all instructional staff, regardless of content specialty, collaborate regularly to develop instruction for individual learners and monitor the acquisition, application, and synthesis of key instruction.
Contrary to the structure of a traditional model of instruction, research suggests that learners do not engage by being controlled or overly regulated (Pink, 2009). Authentic engagement requires autonomy, purpose, and mastery. Competency based learning requires that learners play an active role in their achievement, serving as agents of their own growth. When learners have agency, they understand themselves as learners, they feel like they have power to make things happen, they can plan and monitor their progress, and they learn to think independently (Technology and Innovation in Education, 2015). Learner agency is foundational to a successful competency based model. High-yield instructional practices are also central to a strong academic program (Hattie & Zierer, 2018). Both will be a strategic focus over the next three (3) years.