Project Summary

The New England Network for Personalization and Performance (NENPP), created by the Plymouth, Massachusetts School District and the Center for Secondary School Redesign, Inc., (CSSR) has successfully competed for a $5,000,000.00 grant through the extremely competitive Investing in Innovation (i3) Program of the USDOE. In fact, there were 1324 applicants in the development category and only 30 will receive funding. In addition to Plymouth and CSSR, project partners include the New York Performance Standards Consortium (Consortium) and the UCLA School Management Program. Additionally the project will benefit from generous matching funds from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the Rural Schools and Community Trust. The success of this application is a result of the innovative approaches to high school learning that the Plymouth School District has been implementing over the past several years.

The member districts participating in the NENPP are representative of four New England states. NENPP, as described below, represents a truly innovative approach to preparing and motivating students for postsecondary success.

We envision a redesigned high school, a place where learning can happen anytime, anyplace; a place where students demonstrate their learning through complex, rigorous performance assessments. Our redesigned high school is a place where teachers function more as facilitators and coaches of learning than as lecturers and dispensers of knowledge. Our hypothesis is: Students who participate in inquiry-based learning experiences tied to performance assessments will experience success in school and be better prepared for college and/or career experiences.

The NENPP will allow schools to support each other in the development of personalized learning environments that include performance assessments as a vehicle of demonstrating mastery of course competencies. This model of schools is one where learning and assessment is inquiry based and personalized for each student but includes measures of evidence of achievement that is both reliable and valid. This kind of schooling exists in a number of small schools around the country, but has been very well refined by a consortium of New York Schools, the New York Performance Standards Consortium (Consortium). Consortium schools provide personalized learning environments where learning is guided by collaborative professional communities that engage in inquiry based teaching and learning. The Consortium includes 33 high schools in New York State, 30 of which are located in New York City and has documented strong evidence of success for all students. In Consortium schools, only 15% of entering ninth graders are reading at grade level compared to the New York City average of 30%. And, Consortium students are more likely to be from poverty or have special needs. But, Consortium School students are much more likely to graduate, go directly into college and persist at least into their sophomore years than are students from the City as a whole.

With the support of the Consortium and CSSR, this network of New England schools will be able to create systemic change that is based on an in depth performance of mastery as part of a multiple measure assessment system.

NENPP Schools:

  • Plymouth North High School, Plymouth, MA
  • Plymouth South High School, Plymouth, MA
  • Mount Abraham Union Middle High School, Bristol, VT
  • Nashua North High School, Nashua, NH
  • Nashua South High School, Nashua, NH
  • Pittsfield Middle High School, Pittsfield, NH
  • Nute Middle High School, Milton, NH
  • Laconia High School, Laconia, NH
  • Manchester West High School, Manchester, NH
  • Raymond High School, Raymond, NH
  • Newfound High School, Bristol, NH
  • Kearsarge High School, New London, NH
  • Noble High School, North Berwick, ME

Goal
Using performance assessment to change the culture of schools so that they will increase the number of students that leave network high schools with the skills to be successful in their post-secondary endeavors. Our specific goal for this project is that by the end of year 5, every student in every network school will have participated in at least two inquiry-based learning experience and demonstrated mastery through performance assessment.

Activities

  1. Summer institute co-facilitated with Consortium will support teams of teachers develop inquiry based curricular units and begin the conversation about assessment (year 1). In subsequent years the focus will shift to developing assessments and moderation study.
  2. CSSR will provide on site follow-up with these teacher teams and will reinforce the learning from the summer institute. The Consortium will provide teacher mentors to assist teacher to address challenges that arise.
  3. In order to supporting the cultural shift needed at each school, CSSR will work with a change leadership team from each school so that they understand change process, including dealing with expectations for resistance, communication and buy in requirements.
  4. Create a Performance Assessment Review (PAR) Board comprised of nationally recognized individuals that will visit the network schools, observe and participate in student presentations, interview students, and teachers, and review faculty documentation.
  5. On going support will also be provided by the UCLA School Management Program through a rigorous evaluation process.