Competency Based Education

Competency Based Education (CBE) is an approach to learning that requires students to master the skills and knowledge at one level before they can advance to the next level.

CBE also means that if students have gaps in skills, we will we will work hard to provide them with the supports needed to address learning needs, build skills, and help students continue to make progress in their learning.

At DSISD CBE includes four key components: 

Project-Based Learning

Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. In Gold Standard PBL, projects are focused on student learning goals and include Essential Project Design Elements:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills – The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, communication, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question – The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry – Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity – The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice – Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection – Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision – Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product – Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.
Personalized Learning

Educators at DSISD believe that learning should be personalized for all students. This requires that both teachers and students not only know grades and assessment data, but also students’ strengths areas of growth and interests. The Summit Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) helps teachers to create meaningful project based curriculum that students can access at their own pace, and from anywhere.

Personalization also means that students have ownership of their learning. They have voice and choice and know how to be self-directed learners. This requires careful and intentional planning, as well as ensuring a strong culture that supports students in feeling a strong sense of belonging and self-awareness. We use Summit’s Self-Directed Learning Cycle and Habits of Success to support in meeting students where they are at, to help them get to where they want to go.

Early College & Career Preparation

At DSISD we provide students with multiple pathways starting in 11th and 12 grades, depending on their college and career goals. In 9th and 10th grades, we support students with building a strong foundation in academic learning through our competency and project based learning model. They also develop habits of success supported in advisory and classes. In the upper house grades, students can select pathways from a variety of experiences, including:

  • CareerConnect Apprentice ship program (2 days a week)
  • CareerConnect Internship program (2 days a week in the afternoons)
  • Classes at CEC (daily in the afternoons)

Students can also decide to stay at DSISD full time to focus on accelerated coursework in concurrent enrollment and AP classes, credit recovery and DSISD elective classes.

Learn more about concurrent enrollment here.

Experiential Leanring

Experiential learning is a process through which students develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting.


  • Explore the world and apply learning through meaningful experiences
  • Make connections between classroom learning and the real world
  • Develop personal and professional skills that can be applied to learning experiences and the school community
  • Explore passions and interest and have FUN

Students do this through Intensives– Students will have an extended multi-day deep study of a subject designed with student interests and teacher passions in mind.