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Note from Superintendent Swanson: May 5, 2021

Dear Westminster Community,

CBS ’Proved its Worth’ During Pandemic

The headline in our What’s Up WPS story about a recent profile of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic says a lot about the power of competency based education.

On Monday, K-12 DIVE, an influential education website, provided its readers a comprehensive explanation of how our Competency Based System (CBS) works and why it was so valuable during a year when students were required to take ownership of their learning. Student agency has always been a key component of our learning model, but when we began this journey more than a decade ago, we never expected it to be tested by a national health crisis.

I hope you find the time to read the story.

On a related note, on Thursday, Board of Education member Ken Ciancio and I plan to testify before the House Education Committee in support of legislation that would require an audit of the state’s education Accountability System. Superintendents across the state agree with me that the current system, which relies to a great extent on the results of high stakes standardized test scores, does not do a good job of evaluating the effectiveness of schools and school districts.

We believe in accountability, but a system that does little more than reflect the demographics of a community needs to be reexamined. Many of our students begin their education behind their peers and we believe that the measure of a district or schools’ success is not where students are on test day, but whether they are prepared for the day after graduation.

Our Competency Based System does just that by allowing students to quickly move to the next level after showing mastery of a skill or, when necessary, taking more time to fill in gaps in their learning. Almost every educator, regardless of where they work, will tell you that this kind of system makes sense, but the state accountability system does not support this kind of innovation. 

Westminster Public Schools helped draft the bill to audit the system, and we are working hard to convince lawmakers that now is the perfect time to take a fresh look at how we educate our children.

The committee hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon and if you would like to add your voice to the debate, contact ssaunders@westminsterpublicschools.org and he will tell you how to testify virtually or in person.

Finally, please take note of the What’s Up WPS story about our Board of Education resolution supporting the ability of our undocumented students to earn and hold professional licenses after graduating from high school. The resolution is in keeping with our commitment to support all of our students, regardless of immigration status.

Kindest regards, 

Dr. Pamela Swanson

Superintendent of Schools