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APS receives grant for competency-based classroom learning

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools recently received a $50,000 grant to begin implementing competency-based learning in the classrooms.

“This grant is a grant to start looking towards a pilot project of competency-based education,”Superintendent Dr. John VanWagoner said. “It’s a system where you design a structure in your classrooms to be geared towards competencies of not only of core content things you want your kid to be able to demonstrate what they know, but also 21st century skills and soft skills.”

APS is one of seven school districts in Michigan to receive a competency-based learning grant and the grants totaled $500,000. VanWagoner said APS was awarded a grant to start creating some competency-based education programs.

“Our intent is to create some choice programs that parents could opt into at a couple of our schools that would create these systems that would let kids be able to move and grow at their rate,” he said.

VanWagoner said they will be working at Alpena High School with the project-based learning program to base it off of competencies.

“What our idea is that as kids go through their high school years in the 11th and 12th grade, we could create more of an independent study program where kids could, based on those competencies, go deeper into an area in which they have an interest in,” VanWagoner said.

VanWagoner said the grant is tied to the project-based learning program even though it doesn’t have to be.

“Kids will have projects that are designed around those competencies and that they’re able to demonstrate and be able to really prove and show what they can learn and demonstrate how that works with technology and how they’re able to do a presentation or be able to work with a group to be able to do those things,” he said.

VanWagoner said conversations took place on Friday with the state and the other school districts about what APS is looking to do with the grant. He said ideas and resources also were shared between the school districts.

The $50,000 is for next school year to start the program for training and opportunities for visits to see the program in action.

“We’re excited to be able to have the money,” VanWagoner said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.

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