(Washington, DC) – Tonight, the DC State Board of Education approved regulations that will allow students in the District of Columbia to receive high school credit through innovative and rigorous competency-based courses. The regulations, which go into effect after publication in the DC Register, give schools and local education agencies the ability to dramatically alter the way high school students use their time and advance between courses.
With the new regulations, schools may apply for a waiver to offer competency-based courses that allow teachers to tailor course content to the unique needs of students, and advance them to new material only after they have mastered pre-requisite academic and skill-based standards. This pathway privileges demonstration of mastery of concept over social promotion, and offers a means for teachers to better meet the unique learning pace and styles of students.
“We have always known that students learn at their own pace and in unique ways, but our current system requires all students to spend equivalent amounts of time in class in order to earn a credit. Competency-based courses give teachers the ability to help students own their learning and master material, truly setting them up for success beyond high school,” says Laura Wilson Phelan, Ward 1 member of the State Board of Education, and chair of the city-wide High School Credit Flexibility Task Force that put forward the proposals for consideration of the Office of the State Superintendent.
“We are all committed to deepening and diversifying our focus on student growth,” said Jennie Niles, District Deputy Mayor for Education. “One critical part of this is fostering students’ ability to make choices that enable their lifelong success and this puts the District one step further in realizing this vision.”
Schools will be able to apply for waivers beginning in the 2016-17 school year. The Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) will create a rigorous waiver application and approval process for DC Public School and Public Charter School Board implementation. OSSE will collect and review implementation data annually and assess results after three years of implementation.
The State Board of Education provides policy leadership, support, advocacy, and oversight of public education to ensure that every student is valued and learns the skills and knowledge necessary to become informed, competent, and contributing global citizens. More information about the SBOE can be found at sboe.dc.gov.