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CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

Summer with QPA: One Educator's Experience

As a district leader for assessment in a district that is personalizing learning, I have been deeply interested in how to systematically create alternate assessments that engage students in deeper learning. The Summer Institute seemed like a great opportunity to learn more!

I first learned about this opportunity to attend the Quality Performance Assessment (QPA) Summer Institute through a relationship that Henry County Schools, GA, has established with the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) through the Assessment for Learning Project. In learning more about CCE, I knew that this was work that our system should be engaged in. Before I attended the Summer Institute, I contracted with CCE to bring an institute to our system to engage our content coordinators in this work as well.

During the Summer Institute in Boston, I had the opportunity to collaborate and learn with educators from across the nation. Through the protocols developed by CCE, we spent a great deal of time digging into performance assessment, giving feedback on tasks, calibrating our scoring on student work samples, and considering equitable practices in assessment. We also had the opportunity to personalize the institute by developing a plan for performance assessment or to develop a new performance assessment of our own. CCE built in time to present and receive feedback on our plans before we left. I felt prepared to not only use the protocols with my own work, but also to facilitate the protocols with teachers in my district.

Fortunately for me, I left the Summer Institute on a Thursday, and our teachers returned to work on the following Monday! This meant that there was no lag in my learning, and I had the opportunity to take what I learned and apply it in my conversations immediately. I began by leading teachers in task validation protocols to help discussions of class assignments in meaningful ways. I could see an immediate shift in conversation as teachers began to discuss ways to improve the language of their assignments and discovered missing pieces to the tasks (aligned standards, rubrics included, etc.). Teachers loved the simplicity of the protocol and were able to hold conversations with one another with little guidance from the facilitator.

Since the summer, my colleagues and I have embedded multiple protocols within the work we do with backwards design planning to increase rigor. These protocols help take the emotion out of the conversation and focus the conversation on the task given to students. We’ve seen teachers at all levels (elementary, middle, and high) and all subject areas learn how to revise their work before handing it to students.We have seen an increase in the quality and rigor of tasks. 

In a system which is focusing on the learning outcomes for students, we know that performance assessment is the way for students to truly show what they’ve learned and whether or not they’ve mastered the content. As we continue down the road of personalizing learning for students, I’m excited to think through ways for students to engage with the protocols to design their own tasks and scoring rubrics aligned to content standards and competencies!

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