‘Essential Knowledge’ competency possibly on the chopping block

Cam Nixon, Staff

The Pembroke Academy administrators made steps toward eliminating the “Essential Knowledge” competency for the 2019-2020 school year.

The “Essential Knowledge” competency is included to measure midterms and final assessments only. With the move to competency-based grading this year, midterms were made optional to teachers, and the final assessments in each course can vary to include projects and presentations, aside from the standard final exams.

“My year-long classes gave me the option of either having two assessments or one final,” said junior Chris Daniels. “It was nice to have a say in what we do in our class.”

Director of Curriculum Mr. Morris explained how “Essential Knowledge,” as its own competency, can be problematic.

“The competency really shows how competent you are in the course, but you really don’t know what areas you struggled with,” said Mr. Morris.

Mr. Morris said that removing the “Essential Knowledge” would not mean that teachers would have to remove midterms and final exams.

“Teachers still have the option to give midterms and finals,” he said. “However, the grades would go into each competency so that you tell which areas you are struggling or excelling in.”

The “Essential Knowledge” competency can also be confusing or misleading to some students.

“I passed my midterm in my math class but still was struggling in one competency,” said junior Nate Cassidy. “Fortunately, I got that grade to passing, but I feel like if the assessment was broken down into each competency then it would help students rather than hurt them.”

The final decision to remove the “Essential Knowledge” has not been officially approved, but Mr. Morris said the decision will be made before the start of the upcoming school year.