Mar 19 2018

Newsletter: March 2018

The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) is partnering with EducationCounsel in a national effort to support the use of k-12 graduation performance assessments, such as student portfolios, capstone projects, and senior defenses, 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 will provide periodic updates on the work of the initiative’s three task forces and features on promising work in the field.

Jump to: RCA Project Update  |  Recognition Task Force Update  |  Technology Tool Task Force  |  Leading Places Network Task Force  |  Feature: Assessment for Learning Project

 RCA Project Update

Reimagining College Access Initiative Launched at 2018 USC CERPP Conference

In January, LPI and EdCounsel officially launched the Reimagining College Access (RCA) Initiative in conjunction with the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice (CERPP) annual conference. The theme for the 2018 conference was Toward More Equitable and Expert Practice. The conference brought together nearly 180 participants, including leading graduate and undergraduate admission deans, higher education scholars, k–12 educators, and state and federal policymakers to explore “new and emerging avenues to assess student attributes for admission and success.” On the second day of the conference, Linda Darling-Hammond, Roneeta Guha, and Peter Ross from LPI conducted a master class on performance assessments, Authentic, Equitable, and Personalized: The Promise of Performance-Based Assessment. The session focused on how k–12 schools and school systems across the nation are using performance assessments to capture students’ deeper learning skills and competencies, and the ensuing opportunities to use rich, authentic student work generated from such performance assessments to inform higher education admission, placement, and advising decisions. Conference participants expressed great interest in the ideas shared and asked thoughtful questions about implementation. Articles and blog posts written about the event included references to the new initiative:

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 Recognition Task Force Update

The Recognition Task Force met on January 22 to discuss the draft landscape analysis and the features and criteria needed for a performance assessment recognition system. Task force members asked good, pushing questions to direct the work. After the meeting, LPI continued to conduct background research to inform the landscape analysis, and began working to develop a set of hypotheses about the key features required in a recognition system. LPI shared these hypotheses with the task force prior to the March 9 meeting, during which members provided valuable input on the hypotheses and assertions. As this work moves forward, the task force continues to grapple with several questions:

  • What are the most essential features and criteria for a system that recognizes high-quality k–12 performance assessments?
  • How can such a system be designed to recognize the variety of k–12 performance assessment models and systems that exist, without the recognition process being burdensome for educators?
  • How can such a system be designed to meet the varying needs of higher education (including large and small, public and private institutions)?
  • How can the information from recognized performance assessments be used for admissions vs for course placement or for advising students?

We will return to these questions at our next task force meeting, which will be on Friday, May 4, 11:00 a.m.12:00 p.m. PT (2:00 p.m.3:00 p.m. ET).

In addition, the Recognition Task Force* is pleased to welcome several new members:

  • Rose Colby, Competency Based Education Specialist
  • Susan Patrick, President and CEO, iNACOL 
  • Ray Pecheone, Executive Director, SCALE
  • Lee Shulman, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Emeritus, Stanford University, President Emeritus, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

We continue to look for enrollment managers and registrars from colleges and universities to serve on the task force and provide the higher education perspective on the development of a performance assessment recognition system. Please contact Roneeta Guha at rguha@learningpolicyinstitute.org if you have recommendations.

*Task force membership is by invitation only.

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 Technology Tool Task Force Update

The Tech Task Force continues on a parallel path to the Recognition Task Force. As we await the recommendations of the Recognition Task Force, we continue to explore how to use technology to share performance assessment data with higher education admission placement, and advisement offices. We had a robust conversation in early February and another in early March in which we wrestled with the hypothesis that we should be creating or adapting a technology tool that will allow higher education to view a “multiple measures” dashboard. Such a dashboard would potentially include traditional measures such as GPA, SAT/ACT scores, etc., but would also have a place to share “recognized” performance assessment data. The task force continues to grapple with key issues, including:

  • What data to include on a dashboard (e.g., video clips of student defenses)
  • How to visually display recognized “scores”
  • What depth of detail to include on optional click-through pages (e.g., written reports, data sets, presentation defenses)
  • How to build in flexibility for different institutions to customize their view of the data
  • How to connect to other platforms (e.g., a k–12 performance assessment platform, a third-party transcript vendor, SAT, ACT, AP, IB, etc.)
  • How to make such a platform secure and honor privacy

We will continue to wrestle with these questions at our next task force meeting on Thursday, April 26, 9:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m. PT (12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. ET) and will prepare a set of draft recommendations that will be discussed at the May 31 convening in Washington, DC.

At our opening meeting, members aligned on a set of task force objectives: 

  • Discuss and create a draft of necessary characteristics for a technology platform that collects and displays k–12 student data in general and specifically focuses on performance assessments for use at both the k–12 level and for college admissions, placement, and advising.
  • Conduct a landscape analysis of the technology components of current national and international software platforms that would address these concerns.
  • Refine the necessary components based on the landscape analysis.
  • Conduct a cross-walk between the identified needs and currently available technology platforms. Determine one to three approaches for next steps, through modification of current systems and/or the creation of new technology platforms.
  • Develop a position paper that outlines the needs, the landscape of current platforms, and one to three suggested approaches (by June 2018).

Finally, the Technology Tool Task Force* is pleased to welcome several new members:

  • Erin Bibo, Deputy Chief, College and Career Programs, District of Columbia Public Schools
  • Rick Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Georgia Tech
  • Nicole Eversley Bradwell, Director, Admission, Ithaca College
  • Dan French, Executive Director, Center for Collaborative Education
  • Michael Hovland, Director of Enrollment Management Data Analytics, University of Iowa
  • Tom Vander Ark, CEO and Partner, Getting Smart

*Task force membership is by invitation only.

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 Leading Places Network Brain Trust Update

Last month, the Leading Places Network “Brain Trust” held its first meeting to begin designing the network’s primary goals, theory of action, structure, and potential membership. Brain Trust members* agreed that a network of leading places across k–12 and higher education would be a valuable strategy for both (1) advancing systems of performance assessment in and across both sectors in those places and (2) piloting ideas developed in RCA’s Recognition Task Force and Technology Tool Task Force to refine and improve those ideas and inform the broader field.

The group provided feedback on drafts of goals and a theory of action and grappled with how to ensure the network will advance equity rather than exacerbate existing gaps. The group also began discussing the range of participants that might benefit from and contribute to the network. Conditions and characteristics discussed included, among other things, depth of leadership commitment to this work, existing efforts or policies to leverage, internal and external capacity, political and stakeholder buy-in, and the potential to advance equity and influence others.

Moving forward, the group will continue to grapple with these design questions to develop and refine a strategy for the network and to identify potential participants in advance of the 2nd annual RCA Convening on May 31. The Brain Trust will continue to work closely with the other two task forces to maintain alignment and identify opportunities to pilot and iterate on new ideas and approaches in the field.

*"Brain Trust" membership is by invitation only.

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Feature: Assessment for Learning Project

For the past 2 years, 17 grantees of the Assessment for Learning Project (ALP), a joint initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, have been rethinking assessment and the role it can and should play in k–12 education. Led by the Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) at the University of Kentucky in partnership with Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) at EDUCAUSE and 2Revolutions, ALP has helped expand existing efforts and test new ones and has sought to learn as much as possible about how to shift k–12 mindsets and practices from relying primarily on assessments as measures of learning to a more balanced approach in which assessments also are tools for learning.

Although the grantees’ projects run the gamut, many are directly related to the RCA initiative, including several focused on advancing the use of performance assessments to better measure deeper learning outcomes and to increase equity. For example, LPI is leading the California Performance Assessment Collaborative (CPAC), which represents educators, policymakers, and researchers who are working to study and advance the use of authentic approaches to assessment, such as presentations, projects, and portfolios, which require students to demonstrate applied knowledge of content and use of 21st century skills. Additionally, Fairfax County Public Schools and eight other Virginia school districts, in partnership with EdLeader21, have formed a networked improvement community to advance student-led assessment practices, including student-curated portfolios, student defenses of their work, and self-assessment of growth. Read about the other 10 grantees and their innovative projects here.

ALP’s “Learning Agenda” aligns with many of the same questions animating the RCA initiative:

  • How can assessment support a broader definition of student success?
  • What assessment practices most effectively empower students to own and advance their learning?
  • How can we most effectively build educator capacity to gather, interpret, and use evidence of student learning to enhance instruction?
  • How does assessment for learning inform broader contexts of accountability, policy, and system design?
  • How can we pursue equity through assessment for learning?

Given these shared interests, it is not surprising that many ALP grantees are also active participants in RCA. Although ALP is focused on k–12 assessment, all RCA participants will find value in learning more about these innovative efforts. Fortunately, a core value of ALP is to lift up lessons learned and share promising practices. You can read reflections by ALP grantees on this EdWeek blog and listen to a growing set of ALP podcasts. The ALP and RCA initiatives will continue to seek opportunities to share learnings and identify new opportunities to rethink assessment and reimagine college access.

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