Feb 12 2020

Newsletter: February 2020

The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) is partnering with EducationCounsel and Education First in a national effort to support the use of k-12 performance assessments, such as student portfolios and capstone projects, in higher education admissions, placement, and advising decisions. This initiative brings together a diverse group of k-12 and higher education policy and practice leaders around the idea that both systems can benefit from authentic and holistic ways of assessing students’ competencies and mastery of skills needed for college, work, and life in the 21st century.

This newsletter provides periodic updates on the work of the initiative and features promising work in the field.

Jump to: RCA Welcomes Monica Martinez  |  Update on RCA Collaboratives  |  Thank You to the Common App  |  School Profile Blog  |  College Board Race-Neutral Playbook  |  Fourth Annual RCA Convening

 RCA Welcomes Monica Martinez

The RCA team is excited to welcome Monica Martinez as the new leader of RCA at the Learning Policy Institute. Monica has spent her career focused on addressing college success from both the higher education level and the k–12 level. Monica started her career working for admissions at Texas Woman’s University, then at the Dean’s Office at New York University, and ended her time in higher education as an Assistant Dean of the College for Williams College. Since then, she has worked for foundations and intermediaries in various leadership roles on high school redesign including as President of the New Tech Network, Vice President for Education Strategy at KnowledgeWorks, and Senior Associate at the Institute for Educational Leadership. She also served on the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics during President Obama’s tenure. Most recently, she worked at the XQ Institute, part of the Emerson Collective, where she managed a portfolio of 15 innovative, student-centered high schools. She is also a gubernatorial appointee to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Monica is the author of Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools are Transforming Education in the 21st Century.

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 Update on RCA Collaboratives

Over the last six months, RCA has been deeply engaged with local k-12 leaders and higher education institutions in both New England and Colorado. Leaders in these regions have formed “collaboratives” and are regularly meeting to move RCA work forward in ways that serve their contexts.

RCA New England Collaborative
Since August 2019, RCA has been piloting the use of performance assessments in the college admissions process with a number of New England private and public institutions of higher education (IHEs). The goal of the New England Collaborative is to increase the number of students who are college-ready, improve access to higher education, and to strengthen postsecondary outcomes for all students. As part of these piloting efforts, RCA has regularly convened leaders from New England k-12 networks recognized for their focus on performance assessment, IHEs, and deeper learning stakeholders to move the use of performance assessment forward. The group has discussed ways to define quality, effectively utilize performance assessment to also inform placement and advising, and identify and mitigate bias during the admissions review process. Efforts are underway to expand the number of colleges and universities participating in this collaborative. Current IHE members are Castleton University, Clark University, Pine Manor College, Southern New Hampshire University, and Wheaton College. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is also participating as a supporter of the initiative.

As it evolves, RCA aims to broaden its network of New England k-12 and IHE practitioners, leaders and supporters, and will share lessons learned with the national RCA community.

RCA Colorado Collaborative
Since Summer 2019, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) in partnership with the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI), has regularly convened k-12 districts and higher ed institutions interested in further exploring RCA. These collaborative meetings have emerged as a result of a strong policy environment at the state level, including a new set of graduation guidelines. These guidelines provide a menu of student assessment options to k-12 districts, including a “district capstone” and “collaboratively-developed, standards-based performance assessment.” Participants in the RCA Colorado Collaborative represent a mix of rural, suburban, and urban regions within Colorado, including eight higher education institutions or systems and 10 school districts. Most recently, the collaborative met in person for the fourth time to discuss ideas for integrating high quality performance assessments at the k-12 level and in higher ed.

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 Thank You to the Common App

Thanks to the Common App's support of RCA, students who are applying to the five participating colleges and universities in New England can submit their artifacts using the Common App and SlideRoom. The Common App continues to be an important partner in the RCA initiative and we appreciate the direct support it has provided to the New England collaborative during the 2019-20 admissions cycle. We also thank the Common App for inviting RCA to present to its members at their 2019 Member Summit and their Knowledge is Power webinar series.

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Blog: How School Profiles Can Help College Admissions Teams Better Understand  Deeper Learning

In this January 2020 blog post, the Learning Policy Institute’s Julie Adams explores why school profiles are an important tool for schools that engage students in deeper learning. Learn how some k-12 schools use their profiles to convey important information about their learning environments to college admissions teams, including how students experience project-based learning, performance assessments, and academic internships. In the post, Julie highlights the RCA initiative and draws from her conversations with RCA higher education admissions teams.

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 College Board Race-Neutral Playbook

RCA was recently featured in the latest publication by the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative as an example of an innovative approach to advance equity in college admissions. The Playbook: Understanding the Role of Race Neutral Strategies in Advancing Higher Education Diversity Goals, offers a practical guide for using race- and ethnicity-neutral strategies and selection criteria to help advance institutional diversity interests. The description of RCA appears in the section, “Flexible Admission and Aid Criteria and Test Use.”

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 Fourth Annual RCA Convening

RCA is looking forward to our fourth annual convening on May 27th, 2020. As with the first three convenings, it will bring together policy and practice leaders in k-12 and higher education and leaders from Colorado and New England to foster cross-sector conversations and collaborate on effective ways to realize the RCA vision. This invitation-only convening will also inform the next phase of the initiative.

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