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Cognia Report Details Westminster Public Schools Turnaround Effort

Calling Westminster Public Schools, “A Competency-based Success Story,” Cognia, an internationally recognized accreditation agency recently profiled the transformation of WPS in a recent report that is being shared with educators worldwide.

WPS is the first district in the country to receive certification in competency-based education. 

The eight-page report details the history of the district’s move to a personalized learning approach and how it was able to come off the state accountability clock and improve academic outcomes for students. The district’s Competency Based System (CBS) requires students to show mastery or understanding of a topic before moving to the next learning level. Educators across the country are now embracing CBS after discovering that traditional learning models often lead to students graduating without required skills while others never reach their full potential. 

During the district’s implementation of CBS, the Colorado Department of Education and State Board of Education did not understand and were not particularly supportive of the concept, so the district turned to an outside non-profit accrediting organization for perspective. Cognia (then AdvancEd) provided a top to bottom analysis of the district, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of CBS.

“The thing that intrigued me the most was that Cognia was looking at us through a lens of innovation instead of as a traditional system,” Superintendent Pam Swanson recalled.  “They told us, ‘You guys have built an amazing Lamborghini, but not everyone knows how to drive it.’” 

From this analysis, the district examined its approach and made significant changes to its approach. 

Among them, is a more consistent implementation of CBS and more accountability at the classroom and school level. 

Out of this partnership, Cognia has developed a certification process for other schools and districts contemplating a move to competency-based learning. 

Click here to read A Competency-based Success Story.

two students in the classroom