One of our site visit participants expressed:
Join us to find how Passion + Agency = Impact at Building 21. Specifically, we’ll focus here on their competency design and dashboard.
My last post covered presentations of learning from student portfolios at the Workshop School. I’ll wrap up with a future post about the presentations of learning from capstone projects at Science Leadership Academy.
Building 21 is a non-selective district high school serving students in grades 9–12. The school is driven by a compelling theory of action: PASSION + AGENCY = IMPACT.
Building 21’s competency and project-based model personalizes learning for students through learning pathways. Each student follows a student-driven customized learning pathway to graduation that includes six components:
- Blended, self-paced modules
- Internships, experiential learning, and dual enrollment opportunities
- Studios for deeper, applied learning
- 5-person peer teams for peer support
- 15-student advisories
- 30-student anchor learning communities to support assessment and progress-tracking and to deliver personal mastery (social-emotional learning) and learning design strand content
Through intentional deconstruction of the prohibitive structures that are pervasive in traditional school models, learning at Building 21 occurs in different contexts not tied to year-long courses, course-based credit, or seat time. The end goal: Provide students with real work and engage students in authentic ownership of how they learn and track their progression.
A Focus on Competencies
To realize this goal, educators at Building 21 and the School District of Philadelphia combined and ripped apart standards to develop competency statements. They created continua for every statement so that student mastery can be tracked and measured along a continuum of levels supporting students to enter learning at their point of readiness.
Writing arguments competency with performance level descriptors
The competency dashboard allows students to view their progress on any competency. With a color coding system, students can view their level of performance mapped to a grade level (thanks to B21’s conversion chart).
We were impressed with the deeply thoughtful approach Building 21 has taken to personalize learning for their students. And we were equally impressed with what these students shared with us during roundtable discussions. One thing is for certain, students report feeling motivated to learn: “We can see where we are with the colors [on the dashboard] and our advisors push us to be successful.”
Learn More about B21
- Building 21 Grantee Page - The school design and related resources
- Breaking out of the Boxes, CompetencyWorks - Thoroughly explains B21’s competency-based structure, partnerships, and thinking beyond what we know as schools and schooling.
- Building 21’s Competency Dashboard, CompetencyWorks - The design of the student-centric information system to support their personalized, competency-based process.
- Problem of Practice - B21 prepared this to seek input from NGLC site visit participants on how to help students, families, and teachers shift their mindset about growth, progress, and pathways.
Competency-Based Education Resources from B21
- Public Google drive: Whenever B21 develops a new resource, it is shared in this drive.
- Sample progress reports
- FAQ on the instructional model
- Competency Handbook - A student and family guide to competency based education.
- B21 Google Data Dashboard Demo Site - Explore the student and staff folder to view the dashboards
- Slate Competency Dashboard Demo Site (Login: demoteacher; Password: demoteacher)
- Presentations of Learning at the Workshop School - First in this series on innovative Philadelphia high schools.
- Personalized & Competency-Based Approaches Shape Learning in Two New Philadelphia High Schools - More about the innovative competency-based learning model at Building 21.
Competency-Based Learning in K-12 Schools - How NGLC schools incorporate competency-based learning in their school design.