Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

Michael J. Gilbert

First Committee Member

John V. Schippers

Second Committee Member

Heath Lowry

Third Committee Member

William Topp

Fourth Committee Member

Robert Cox


The purpose of this study was to provide a model for California unified school districts to establish minimal competencies and to provide added direction, guidance and support to those districts that had already adopted them. The model was based on a consensus of selected unified · school districts throughout California. It sought to establish a step-by-step process which any school district could follow. To accomplish this purpose, the following objectives were addressed:

1. To specify minimum competencies in identified curriculum areas

2. To ascertain who will recommend to the Board of Education the minimum acceptable levels of student performances and how the levels will be established

3. To create a manageable measurement scheme consistent with the adopted competencies

4. To determine the disposition of students who do not attain acceptable competency levels.

PROCEDURE: This study was descriptive and employed the interview as the primary data-gathering technique. The procedures employed in conducting this study were the following: (1) a review of the relevant literature to identify procedures in establishing minimal competencies; (2) the construction of an interview instrument to gather specific information on how minimum competencies in curriculum areas could be identified and to ascertain the most beneficial methods of implementing minimal competencies; (3) the selection of twelve unified school districts in California for interviews; (4) the administration of the interview; (5) the tabulation and treatment of the data; and (6) the development of a model which could assist districts in the implementation and identification of minimal competencies.

FINDINGS: In the selection general agreement among the working committee consisted the Director of Curriculum. of committee personnel the interviewees was that the main of teacher representatives and When choosing committee members, the principals from each school chose the members to serve. In choosing the chairman of the committee, the general agreement was that the chairman was selected by the superintendent of the district. In dividing committee members into subcommittees, the consensus was that the main committee divided into subcommittees at the beginning of each meeting and met later as the main committee. At least one year is needed to do an effective job in selecting minimal competencies. When asked if community members were given an opportunity to express their opinions, the consensus was that parents were given a chance to express their opinions after the competencies had been selected by the main committee. Parents were mostly concerned over whether standards were set high enough. When asked which competencies students had to pass in order to graduate, the consensus was that students must exhibit competencies in reading, writing and computation. In establishing criteria for passing the reading competencies, the consensus was that students must demonstrate knowledge in four different categories. When asked how districts actually selected competencies, interviewees replied that the main committee met ·first, selected competencies and then gave the list to the parent committee for comments and revisions. The main committee had a second opportunity to change the competencies after they had been reviewed by the parent committee and then submitted the final list to the board for approval. In establishing criteria for passing the math competencies, students had to demonstrate knowledge in ten different main categories. In discussing the criteria for passing the writing competencies, the student had to demonstrate knowledge of spelling, capitalization, punctuation and grammar as well as show he could write a logical composition. He had to stick to the main point, use examples and show logical thinking.

Measurement Instruments: When asked what measurement instruments would be used to measure students in reading, districts indicated they would be using teacher selected materials such as newspapers, magazine articles and paragraphs written by teachers. In math, test items would be constructed by teachers. In writing, test items would also be constructed by teachers as well as kinds of compositions to be written by the students.

Rationale for Selection: In choosing the rationale for selecting measurement instruments in reading, writing and computation, the consensus was that students ought to be able to read certain forms, compute certain figures and write with certain skills in order to get along in life after graduation.

Implementation of Competencies: All interviewees replied that inservice workshops concerning implementing the competencies were held during the year. The main point all districts stressed was that teachers and staff had known about minimal competencies from the time committees first started working on them. Staff members were informed, through representatives, on the progress of the committee and were allowed to make suggestions and revisions throughout the year.

Student Remediation Procedures: All districts replied that arrangements would be made for a conference to take place between the teacher, parent, student and counselor when a student had shown he could not pass the competencies. At the conference it would be decided how many periods a day the student would be attending a competency lab and which remediation materials he would be needing in order to pass specific competencies. Competency Labs had been established at every high school. These labs were for the purpose of helping all students who had failed parts of the competency test. Most students would be attending the competency lab at least one full period a day. Differential standards would be used when testing students who had been identified as Learning Disabled. All districts replied that there would be no differential standards for students of limited English speaking ability and that all students would take the competency test in English. Special help would be given to handicapped students in order for them to take the regular competency test along with the other students.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Further models should be developed after minimal competency testing is actually implemented in the schools. Specific attention should be given to the following questions: (1) Since the tests have been given, have minimal competency standards been raised or lowered? (2) Since the tests have been given, what revisions have been made in each of the three main competencies? (3) Since the tests have been given, what have school districts done to check their revised tests for reliability and validity? (4) How many students in the various school districts actually failed the tests? (5) How effective have the competency labs been for remedial students? (6) What percentage of limited English speaking students have failed the test? (7) If there has been a large percentage of limited English speaking students failing the test, what does the district intend to do about it? (8) Has the legality of minimal-competency testing been challenged in the courts by various parents of students failing the tests? If so what have been the results? (9) Have minimal competency tests made any difference in the attitude of taxpayers in the community? and (10) Have minimal competency tests made any difference in the attitude of teachers (in the way teachers teach)?



Included in

Education Commons