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Competency-Based Approach To Education

NEIA believes in the power of empathy, curiosity, and collaboration to transform people’s lives and positively affect change in the world. For clarity and equity, assignments are designed and assessed through our Competency-Based Education system.

Overview

  • Teachers create each assessed assignment through a lens of their subject-area competencies and pillars competencies that can be measured throughout a student’s entire educational process. 

  • NEIA determines assessments to best support student learning.

  • Our approach enables innovators to take charge of their learning while they work towards a standard set of learning goals.

  • NEIA’s grade conversion system ensures all student’s grades are comprised of multiple data points throughout their entire year (and career) at NEIA.

  • NEIA’s competency-based system was recently featured in over 30 markets through Scripps Media. Watch here.

New England Innovation Academy (NEIA) is committed to providing an innovative, relevant, and future-focused learning experience. Our concept of student growth is based on understanding the vital role of feedback, practice, application, self-evaluation, and demonstration. We root our Competency-Based pedagogical approach in equity, agency, and adaptability.

Our competencies are curated skills that uphold our pillars and assess our students’ (innovators’) understanding and application of key concepts and skills covered in the classroom. At NEIA, competencies are concepts, skills, or specific knowledge essential to completing a course.

According to John Camp, Head of Teaching & Learning and Humanities Teacher at NEIA, “Our value is placing the learning over the grade. Our goal is for innovators to understand that [our competency-based education system] focuses on processing their learning and the skills they need.”

Teachers create each assessed assignment through a lens of their subject-area competencies and pillars competencies that can be measured throughout a student’s entire educational process at NEIA, wherever and whenever the skills are employed, on or off campus. 

Teachers intentionally inform innovators which competencies (i.e., skills) will be assessed for each assignment. While subject areas have a targeted group of three specific competencies, innovators are also evaluated in our school-wide competencies (pillars competencies) that apply to all areas.

“It’s not about getting points for doing a worksheet. It’s about enhancing your skills while doing the worksheet so you can better the summative assessment,” Camp noted.

NEIA determines assessments to best support student learning. Our assessment system includes multiple assessment types, such as portfolios, demonstrations of knowledge, formatives, and summative assignments. Assessment results are meant to inform innovators and their network of educators of student progress and areas of needed attention.

“NEIA’s competency-based grading system is more of an equity system as it allows innovators to demonstrate their skills and understanding of subject matter,” Camp added.

Our approach to competency-based education enables innovators to take charge of their learning while they work towards a standard set of learning goals. Innovators receive meaningful progress feedback and support as they achieve those goals. They show their understanding of a subject by presenting evidence, such as a paper or project, demonstrating what they know and can apply.

Student assignments are assessed by displaying an “Unknown,” “Surface,” “Immersed,” or  “Deep” understanding of each competency or learning outcome. A “Surface” or “Immersed” understanding does not mean innovators have failed, only that they have more learning to do while building the skill.

According to Marie Assir, Director of College Counseling, “the competency-based feedback encourages our innovators to consistently reinvest in their own education, developing skills to read critically and think broadly. As our innovators head out into the world,  I am confident that these skills will elevate the classroom discussion at the university level.”

Regarding transcripts and letter grades, NEIA’s competencies are converted into a letter grade for official transcripts. 

Camp continues, “Innovators receive letter grades, but not every quarter like traditional schools. NEIA’s grade conversion system ensures all student’s grades are comprised of multiple data points throughout their entire year (and career) at NEIA, instead of just one data point, and they get to see their progress from Day 1 to graduation.”

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After our first full week into summer, we want to look back on a year-long project that yielded impressive results for three of our amazing rising 12th graders.

This past fall, NEIA 11th graders pitched products that could add value to people’s lives by curing diseases or ailments. This is part of the BioTrek Program: a joint initiative by ARMI (Advanced Regenerative Medical Institute) and BioFabUSA. Students pitched their amazing ideas to Tim McCauley, their peers, and a panel of judges made up of NEIA staff members. 

Throughout these presentations, our students walked through all phases of the Biotrek journey. First, identifying a problem. Second, engineering a solution using bio-manufacturing techniques. In the third phase, they developed a business and financial model for their product. The final phase was this event: pitching to their peers and judges. They are trying to solve real medical issues, such as endometriosis, chronic lung disease, color blindness, and osteogenesis (just to name a few). 

The winners moved on to the Final Presentations judged by representatives from ARMI and Biofab, which decided
who would represent NEIA against other schools in the Biotrek Championship. The winning group chosen to go to the championship was Endopexy, created by Milena, Lila, and Max H.

Milena, Lila, and Max’s hard worked paid off as they were the winning team of the championships. We are so proud of these three innovators for working hard the whole year and being recognized in such a highly competitive program.

This project-based learning program continues to be a very valuable experience for our innovators. You can clearly see the intersection of subjects like science, math, entrepreneurship, and communications. It is the perfect example of how integrated academics lead to exciting projects and connections.

#NEIA #BioTrek #Innovation #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #integration
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This weekend, three of our 11th grade students: Vicki, Owen, and Langston, won first place at the Entrepreneurship for All - EforAll All Ideas Pitch Competition for their idea around the NEXTGEN Summit, a conference that Langston initiated this spring at NEIA.

Owen explains the idea to execution as follows, "My mother is an alum of the Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Business Accelerator Program. One night while scrolling Instagram, she found a post by EforAll about an All Ideas Pitch Competition happening. She sent me the post at 11:20 p.m. and we were signed up for the event by 12:15 a.m. A few weeks later we were selected to table at the event with the potential of being able to participate in the final pitch competition. We landed a spot in the pitch competition, and it was a huge success as we not only won the first place prize of $1000, but also won the Fan Favorite prize for an additional $500. We were by far the youngest attendees at the event and were pitching with people who were already well removed from college."

We are so proud of our innovators and commend them for their efforts to not only seek new opportunities each and every day but to thrive within them.

#NEIA #PitchCompetition #EForAll #NEXTGENSummit #NEXTGEN #FutureOfEducation #Innovation #Entrepreneurship
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That’s a wrap! We will see you soon, innovators. We miss you already.

#LastDayOfSchool #Summer #NEIA #innovators #summerbreak
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