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Competency-based education pilot launched at Westview Elementary, Westview Primary

Published Thursday, August 29, 2019

A transformation is taking place at Westview Primary and Westview Elementary, and it’s one that teachers and administrators believe will provide a more meaningful experience while also promoting deeper learning.

It’s visible when you walk through the doors at Westview Elementary. For more than a year, those at the school have been converting every space they can to learner areas. Students can be seen in hallways working collaboratively, laying in bean bags while immersing themselves in a book and drawing charts on walls.

Through a partnership with the Personalized Learning Office of the South Carolina State Department of Education, the Westview schools have been able to create memorable learning experiences as opposed to showing students how to study and ace a test.

BCSD Director of Academics and Innovation Kelly Wulf describes what’s happening at the schools as “work to create a better world.“

In May, the BCSD board of education approved a continuation of personalized learning practices by singing off on the implementation of competency-based learning in a new grade level each year, for three years at each of the schools.

“We changed the learning environment in our school. Learning occurs in every single corner and crevice in our building – not just in classrooms,” said WVE principal Shawn Wimmer. “We have completely shifted instruction so that we meet the needs of students where they are, recognizing students don’t all have the same learning style. They learn at a different pace.”

Along with personalized learning practices in place at the school, students will be provided a report card much different than the typical sheet of letter grades. With a personalized learning environment, Wimmer said, a traditional report card can become problematic.

For those grade levels participating in the pilot, there will be reports showing where students align with specific skills. The reports will be accompanied by teacher feedback. The language will be student-friendly and detail exactly where a child is in their goal to master content.      

“The culture in our school building is pretty exciting,” Mrs. Wimmer said at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

WVE finished the year with a 100 perecent teacher retention rate. Mrs. Wimmer attributes her teacher retention to her ability to let teachers educate students the ways that they see best.

“Teachers have been enabled to do what they need to address the needs of the children in their classrooms,” she said.

With the school board’s approval, WVE and WVP are launching competency-based learning in second and third-grade classes this year. In 2020-21, the schools will launch first and fourth-grade programs, and in 2021-22, kindergarten and fifth-grade programs.