Assessment for Learning Project/NG2
NG2: Personalized Inclusive Education Pathways looks to take New Hampshire to the next level of personalized learning as it tackles long-standing educational barriers to personalized learning… that of “Grades.” In this context, the team has recognized that two forms of grades exist in their schools that act as impediments:
- Grades as student assessments that often don’t truly reflect students’ understandings and skills
- Grades as methods for grouping students (by age) that often poorly align to their true needs as learners.
NG2 is an Assessment for Learning Project (ALP), a partnership of the Center for Innovation in Education and Next Generation Learning Challenges. ALP is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
New Hampshire has been committed to competency-based education and personalized learning since 2005 but over the past two years, our efforts have matured and are being recognized at a national level.
Currently, the nine NH PACE school districts are the only districts in the country that the U.S. Department of Education has exempted from giving all students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 a single statewide standardized assessment. After years of preparation, the PACE districts will augment the statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment at grade bands with locally managed performance based assessments and the SAT for all students at grade 11. PACE will demonstrate to the nation a new approach to assessment, one that goes beyond standardized testing to support locally managed assessments, developed BY OUR NH TEACHERS, that support the learning process while providing the accountability required by state and federal governments.
Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) give students the opportunity to learn in rigorous and relevant real-world settings and gain credit for that learning, based on demonstrated mastery of pre-determined course-level competencies.
There is a growing body of research and evidence that finds high-quality programs beyond the traditional classroom setting can provide positive developmental opportunities and improve the academic performance of students.
Students in New Hampshire schools can earn course credit for structured learning activities outside the traditional classroom through Extended Learning Opportunities. In order to gain course credit, students must demonstrate that they have gained knowledge and skills and have met pre-established course competency targets as a result of the experience.
Work Study Practices
During the 2015-2016 school year, New Hampshire’s Tier 1 Districts, along with an additional seven Tier 2 and 3 districts, began unpacking the four State of New Hampshire Work Study Practices of Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Self-Direction. Teachers began translating these success skills into curriculum, instruction, and assessment within their schools and classrooms.
These districts, in consultation with the NH Department of Education, The Center for Innovation in Education, and 2Revolutions, began to explore and implement strategies to:
- Build deep understanding, shared mental models, and common language to describe the development of the WSPs
- Create and refine existing instructional strategies that integrate WSPs with content across the curriculum
- Create and implement high quality assessments to collect student learning of the WSPs
- Build community buy-in for the importance of WSPs
- Integrate WSPs into local reporting and accountability systems
Teams of teachers within each participating school or district engaged in a guided, five-unit course to explore the Essential Skills and Dispositions Framework. The four essential skills and dispositions align with the State of New Hampshire’s Work Study Practices. Teachers then began integrating their learning within their classrooms of students and documenting and reflecting their growth.
Additionally, one district participated in a micro-pilot with MyWays, further exploring how data specific to these Work Study Practices could be gathered and analyzed.
This work will continue within the Tier 1, 2, and 3 schools in the coming school year.
Furthering New Hampshire Vision 2.0
As we think about our Competency Education and Performance Assessment initiatives, and even teacher effectiveness and school accountability and the scaling of these from K to 20, we are planning how these will come together coherently. What would it look like on the college level, in early childhood, in workforce development or in career education? This blueprint will become the action plan for the Learning Initiative as we develop the resources for a comprehensive scaling effort.
The time is right to take the next step in building a competency-based system of supports for educators, an integrated learning system that is driven by local innovation.