Utah district devotes entire high school to competency-based learning

Professionals and other community members will mentor students
By: | March 12, 2020
Competency-based learners at Launch High School in Utah will work on experiential, hands-on learning projects through which they will demonstrate mastery of standards.Competency-based learners at Launch High School in Utah will work on experiential, hands-on learning projects through which they will demonstrate mastery of standards.

The Iron County School District in southern Utah is devoting a whole new school to competency-based learning.

Launch High School will open in a district-owned office building in August with about 200 students and a highly personalized curriculum.

“Unfortunately, traditional systems move students ahead when they’re not ready and hold them back when they’re champing at the bit,” says Cory Henwood, coordinator of the district’s innovative teaching and learning team. “It’s not very responsive to their needs or interests.”

Students will attend Launch High School for their core classes and return to their home schools for electives and extracurricular activities.


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After enrollment in the school via lottery, students will spend about half their time on experiential, hands-on learning projects through which they will demonstrate mastery of standards.

Professionals and other community members will mentor students to guide them in their projects and help them develop soft skills such as problem-solving, creative thinking and collaboration.

“It appeals to all sorts of students, like the advanced learner who wants to progress at own pace, and the learner who wants a more hands-on experience,” Henwood says. “It also appeals to students with IEPs and special needs who want a more personalized approach.”


Read more stories in our competency-based education series.