Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment

Curriculum & Instruction

Competency-Based Education in New Hampshire


Because every learner's journey is unique to the person's particular talents, learning assets, and challenges, we are called to design systems that can deliver customized personal learning approaches. A competency education system recognizes that academic success alone is not the true measure of the learning and proficiency required for students to be ready for future success. Most traditional, time-based education systems fall short because the focus is on covering material, even when students do not fully understand what they are learning. This creates gaps that widen if not addressed. SAU 7 is committed to doing better with a competency-based system that puts each of our students at the center and emphasizes the essential learning outcomes that we - the students, families, and educators of SAU 7, believe are necessary to help our students thrive both now, and in the future.


All New Hampshire schools are expected to be competency-based. In SAU 7, we use the nationally-recognized definition of competency education developed by the Aurora Institute in 2016.


What does it mean for our schools?


  • We empower our students to make important decisions about their learning as much as we can.

  • We consider assessment to be a meaningful, positive, and empowering learning experience for our students.

  • We provide our students with timely and differentiated support for their learning when they need it.

  • We measure student progress based on evidence of learning, not the time they spend on their learning.

  • We encourage our students to learn actively using different pathways and varied pacing.

  • We ensure strategies for equity for all students are embedded into all aspects of our SAU 7 policies, procedures, and practices.

  • We set rigorous, transparent, measurable, and transferable expectations for learning for all of our students



The importance of assessment goes beyond knowing what students have learned. Assessment provides opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning and provides evidence of students meeting learning targets. For teachers, assessment works as a tool to help understand where students are in their learning and drives further instructional decisions. It also works as a feedback mechanism, allowing teachers to inform students about their progress. Ideally, feedback is a mutual responsibility in which the teacher and student communicate about the learning, if there are still misunderstandings that need to be addressed, and further opportunities available to help the student show new growth.


In SAU 7, teachers collect evidence of learning with diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments.


  • Diagnostic Assessments take place prior to instruction and are designed to determine a student's attitude, skills or knowledge in order to identify student needs. They are used to help place students in proper instructional groups and are available to discuss with your child’s teacher upon request. Examples of Diagnostic Assessments include but are not limited to sight word lists, running records, student writing samples, and AIMSweb Plus & STAR360 assessments. 

  • Formative Assessments  capture a student’s progress through the learning process and help students and teachers understand to what extent a student is learning a concept or skill. Formative assessments are considered practice and are weighted as 10% of the overall grade. They are recorded in the gradebook to provide feedback and show growth in skills over time. Examples include class work & homework. Formative assessments are used to determine summative readiness and when students need reteaching, intervention, and extension during the learning process. 


  • Summative Assessments are used to capture transferred evidence of student learning and demonstrate what a student knows and is able to do. They are oftentimes comprehensive and performance-based in nature. These assessments are linked to one or more of the grade level or course competencies and are used to calculate the overall course grade with a weight of 90%. Examples include mid-unit check-ins, research projects, presentations, labs, writings, tests, simulations, and other similar tasks. Students are expected to complete key formative assessments before they are considered eligible to take a summative assessment.

Please visit the links below for more information:

State of NH iPlatform: This link will give you access to reports on student counts, racial statistics, teacher counts, school building information, and financial data on the school districts in the form of budgets and financial statements. 

NH SAS: This link will give you access to the NH Statewide Assessment System (NH SAS) resource page for students and families. Here you will find access to practice tests and other resources to help students prepare for testing.

Assessment Resources


SAU 7 receives federal funding through Title I, Title II, and Title IV grants. Title I grants are used to provide instructional support services to students, Title II funds provide professional development opportunities for teachers to grow and increase knowledge in their profession, and Title IV funds are used to support efforts in maintaining safe schools through providing a School Resource Officer in each building.

The Process

Each year, SAU 7 provides a Needs Assessment for staff to complete. This is followed by a Stakeholders meeting, which is a group of teachers, students, administrators, and parents who meet to review the results of the Needs Assessment and brainstorm various activities that could be implemented, using grant funds, to help meet the needs of the staff and students. Grant allocation amounts are based on formulas that the New Hampshire Department of Education utilizes, integrating factors such as percentage of free and reduced lunch into the calculation.

Mrs. Jennifer Mathieu, M.Ed

SAU 7 Director of Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment

603-237-5571, ext. 4112