Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bedford High School Competency Recovery Week

Bedford High School
Competency Recovery Week

Frequently Asked Questions

What are competencies at Bedford High School?

The basic idea is that a student must master all aspects of a course not just earn an "average" grade high enough to pass.  ​That is why a student must have each competency grade
​in each course at a 70% or higher​ to pass. ​For example, a student might earn an 82% in
​the Communication ​Competency (this could include different types of writing, oral presentation skills for example), a 78% in Problem ​Solving, and a 60% in Skills and Knowledge.  In the traditional model this student would have passed with a 73%​.  ​With our competency ​approach, this student would ​have a grade of NCY ​(Not ​Competent ​Yet) until they earned at least a 70% in
​Skills and ​Knowledge.

What is Competency Recovery Week?​.

Competency Recovery Week is an additional opportunity at the end of each semester for students with grades of F or NYC to master those basic skills.  We want all of our students to have a solid foundation as the "house" is being built​, rather than going back after the house is complete and trying to repair.  Students who have a solid foundation are much more likely to be successful, participate in class and not become a distraction.

How many students participated in January 2016?

Roughly 677 of our 1,500 students were at school during CRW.  We had 477 students who were failing one or more competencies or failing.  In addition, we had approximately 200 students from IB and AP courses who needed to come in to complete specific testing requirements.  In addition, a small number of students took advantage of library and academic support centers.

Why were students with low grades, but who were passing, not allowed to come in to improve their grades?

This first time through the process, we needed to make sure we know how to handle this system for students who are not passing yet.  Our goal moving forward is for students with passing but low marks to have this same opportunity in the future.​

Why did the School decide not to wait until next year?

We considered that.  We also considered starting last year, or the year before that.  In the end, our desire to get started helping our students who are failing classes outweighed our desire to take more time.

Who vetted this plan before it was put into practice and how was it communicated?

We have piloted this plan in world languages for the past two years.  This fall, we presented the proposal for the change to the Bedford Curriculum Committee which has parent members and received their support.  We then presented to the Superintendent and to the School Board.  These were public meetings aired on BCTV and received the School Board’s support.  Once we confirmed that we could proceed, we emailed parents about the change.   We scheduled a Principal's Coffee on the topic and posted the details about the plan on the school website.

Don’t students have to attend school for 180 days?

We are committed to making sure the school is open and available for all students during Competency Recovery Week.  All our staff is working on those days, focused on those students who are failing or have additional external assessments.  In addition, the state standard allows for either 180 days or 990 hours. (As has always been the case in the traditional testing model, students only attended school when their tests were scheduled.)  We far surpass the total hours requirement.

What was wrong with the old model of an exam week?

Nothing was wrong, but we see this model as better. In the old model, students only came in for scheduled test in the morning. All students already had the afternoon out of school.  All instruction stopped for the week, and the previous week was spent on review.  If a student struggled on the mid-term, they had limited opportunity to catch up as the second semester started. In the Competency Recovery Model, midterms were given earlier, and they were given in the natural sequence of the curriculum.  Competency Recovery Week has added instructional time for those students who are not passing.  

Could Competency Recovery discourage students to give their best effort the first time?

It is possible, but we see it as unlikely.  It is likely that not every student will make the extra effort to seek out help during the semester when they know there is the option of getting one-on-one attention during competency recovery week.  Our initial (albeit anecdotal feedback) is that student have been "more" motivated by getting work done so that they would not be required to attend Competency Recovery.  We will be collecting data on this trend.  Also, a big driver for the change is to try to give the students who struggle the foundational knowledge when they need it so that future learning can happen.

How are families supposed to handle this schedule?

If parents wanted, this week’s schedule could be treated like previous exam weeks.  The library, the commons (cafeteria), and the academic center remain open for students to have a safe place to go and be productive.   Midterm week has always had shortened days since the opening of Bedford High School, and there were days in which students did not have any school at all depending on their exam schedule.  Nevertheless, this concern was one of the biggest challenges we heard.   We recognize this adjustment has been a challenge for some families.  In the future, as parents can better anticipate the schedule, this time can also be used for college visits or community service.

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