/ December 21, 2020

It All Starts With Hope: NH Gallup Student Poll First in the Nation to Measure Work Based Learning (WBL)

What is hope, and why does it matter? Pre-Covid it was a nice conversation to have with educators about students being hopeful about their future. Fast forward to our current situation, and everyone is talking about student engagement, hope, and relationships. Hope is much more than a nice conversation now, hope is what will make the difference in how students look at the future.

Hope is “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so”.  That first belief — that the future will be better than the present — is optimism. Hope adds agency to that optimism.

That’s the definition used by Dr. Shane Lopez, former senior scientist at Gallup, who also wanted us to know how useful hope can be.

Two years ago, the Future Learning Pathways (FLP) District Teams, began working on a project with NHLI (funded by the Barr Foundation). The FLP teams began exploring the ways their districts could build career pathways for students. During this exploration, teams recognized they needed to have a stronger understanding of what matters to students. Districts didn’t have the data to support student centered approaches to learning and they needed students to help co-design the career pathways. Teams looked for ways to understand what students cared about and aspired to achieve in the future. Some of the professional development ongoing in the project helped teams learn about the importance of hope and its impact on students.  To gain perspective, members of the teams participated in their own hope exercise by contributing to the hall of hope, where their own pictures of hope were hung. They engaged with Bill Zima, former superintendent at RSU2, in Hallowell, Maine, who shared the RSU2 journey toward hopeful kids and how focusing on hope impacted his students.  Ashley Thompson, K-12 Personalized Learning officer for Marysville, Ohio, shared Marysville’s seven-year journey using the results from the Gallup Student Poll (GSP) and achievement gains over time.  They heard that the poll examined hope, belonging, engagement, and financial and entrepreneurial literacy.  But teams were hesitant to consider the Gallup Student Poll here in NH due to NH SB196, that prevents any non-academic surveying of students other than the YRBS.

At the same time NH SB276, The Drive to 65 Act  was working its way through the NH Legislature with a focus on assessing and advising every incoming high school student on their career interests with the ultimate outcome of identifying a path to a career credential.  This outcome would require a measurement to examine existing pathways to career credentials, show growth in available opportunities, along with impact over time. There are other surveys that measure hope, engagement, and belonging, but if we really want to collaborate with businesses in NH, we need to use tools that are recognized and trusted by both education and business.

This led to a phone call to Mark Reckmeyer at Gallup that began a two-year journey adapting the GSP to meet the guidelines of SB196 and create a section in the survey to gather data about work-based learning in New Hampshire and its relationship to how students feel about their future (Hope).

This spring 2020, a NH Gallup work-based learning advisory group was created that included colleagues from all around the state who have a vested interest in WBL to provide information and feedback. Gallup listened as the group not only defined WBL, but also created a list of WBL opportunities and worked to ensure that the wording would be understood by the students across the state. The student poll items were finalized in the summer of 2020.

On November 4th, a group of high schools throughout the state began the pilot of the NH Gallup Student Poll.  The survey is anonymous and reports aggregate student data. Schools will be able to examine the relationship between work experiences and how students feel about their future, what types of WBL experiences matter to them, and their engagement at school.  What’s more, is that we will have valid and reliable data to spur conversations about WBL in the state and identify which opportunities have the greatest impact for our students. The ultimate goal is to scale the NH Gallup Student Poll across the state and use the data from the survey to confidently identify where resources, time, and energy best serve our students.

Gallup, NHLI, the WBL Advisory group, and the participating NH schools are excited to see where this might lead us in expanding and improving WBL opportunities for all students in New Hampshire.

NHLI wishes to thank the following extraordinary individuals for their time on the NH Gallup Work-Based Learning Advisory Group.

Will Arvelo, Director, State of New Hampshire Division of Economic Development

Terrill Covey, Extended Learning Opportunity Facilitator, Strafford Learning Center

Christopher Dodge, Director of Career and Technical Education, Salem Career and Education Center, Salem High School SAU 57

Beth Doiron, Director of College Access and DOE Programs and Initiatives, CCSNH

Mandy Fraser, Futures Coordinator, SAU 24

Jacqueline Guillette, Consultant, WBL Education and Lifelong Educator

Dean Graziano, VP of Education, Izzit.org

Nicole Heimarck, Executive Director, NH CTE

Stacey Kallelis, Work-Based Learning Coordinator, Salem High School SAU 57

Brendan Minnihan, Superintendent, Newport School District  SAU 43

Vasiliki Partinoudi, Director of Career and Technical Education of the Applied Technology Center (ATC), Milford High School SAU 40

Irv Richardson, Coordinator for Public Education and School Support, NEA-NH

Brian Stack, Principal, Sanborn Regional High School, SAU 17

Christine Thompson, Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator, Kennett High School SAU 9

Karen Thompson, K-12 Director of Personalized Learning & PACE District Lead, Hinsdale School District SAU 92

Kathryn Wilson, Assistant Superintendent, SAU 9

Val Zanchuk, President, Graphicast Inc.



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Carolyn Eastman

Director of Personalized Learning

Carolyn is the Director of Personalized Learning for NHLI.  She has over 30 years in education. She was an Assistant Superintendent of the Oyster River School District in Durham, NH. She has taught Middle School mathematics. Carolyn has spent over 20 years as a technical assistance provider to State Departments of Education including New Hampshire,  Ohio and Michigan through her work at the Council of Chief State School Officers and Wisconsin Center for Research. Carolyn assists states in building statewide capacity for school improvement efforts by elevating leadership to utilize data effectively, and creating reflective cultures that measure change over time and impact of school improvement efforts on student achievement. Most recently, she has spearheaded efforts locally to rethink parent engagement and opportunities for all students. Carolyn holds dear to her heart all opportunities that allow students to explore and pursue potential passions. She has assisted with CTE research in mathematics, observation protocols for student led conferencing, Early College Course development, and volunteering with Pathways to 65X25. She holds an advanced degree in Education Administration and Supervision from University of New Hampshire,  a master’s degree in education from Lesley University, and a bachelor’s degree in social work from University of Connecticut.

Categories: ELO (Extended Learning Opportunities) NHLInsights, Research and Resources

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