Massachusetts education advocate looks to NH as a model for meaningful assessment


Education advocate Lisa Guisbond used New Hampshire’s performance assessment model, PACE, when advocating for more meaningful measures of student and school progress. From the Worcester Telegram:

“[T]oo many Massachusetts political and educational leaders still pretend our test-driven system will do what it has failed to do in 20 years: ensure no students are denied a good public education because of their zip code. Latinos and African-Americans, English language learners and students with disabilities bear the brunt of the damage. Test misuse has led to denial of diplomas, school takeovers, disruptive “turnaround” processes, closures and privatization.

Now is the perfect time for Massachusetts to explore better alternatives to narrow standardized tests, as in New Hampshire. We could implement an assessment system using projects and portfolios measuring deeper learning. Most important, communities, including students, must discuss what they want from school. Then we can develop and use assessments and evaluations achieving those ends.

We have good examples in our state and nationally. They include the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment. MCIEA is working on a new accountability model based on what individual communities want to know about the quality of their schools. Then there’s the New York Performance Standards Consortium of 38 public high schools. They’ve shown that focusing on projects and performance assessments improves graduation rates, college attendance, and staying in college for low-income urban youth.

Bills to accomplish these goals are backed by more than 100 legislators. Let’s work together to forge a new direction.”

As Guisbond mentioned, New Hampshire is at the forefront of meaningful assessments that measure what students actually know. The PACE model moves away from rigid, one-size-fits-all testing and provides educators and schools with real-time feedback on student learning, allowing them to respond to student strengths and challenges as they happen.

And, communities all over the state are redesigning their schools with more community, parent, and student input. They’re partnering with local businesses to provide authentic learning programs like Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs), more students are serving on local school boards, and communities like Pittsfield are coming together to figure out what it is they want for their children.

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Source: Letter: With failure of high-stakes testing, fix public ed model