Academic Standards - Vermont PLP Process

Academic Standards

The Vermont Agency of Education and the Vermont Personalized Learning Plan Work Group have developed a series of resources to help schools consider ways in which they can plan for and implement Personalized Learning Plans. These resources will enable educators to work with their community members, parents, educators, and students to create a process and a product that considers the assets of the school and community while remaining focused on the unique qualities that each student brings to the learning process.


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Personalized learning pathways are designed around the understanding that students will have a carefully crafted approach to meeting standards essential to success in our global society. Cross-curricular graduation standards highlight the transferable skills necessary for success in the 21st century. As schools consider the role of Personalized Learning Plans and the complementary nature of the Education Quality Standards, locally designed standards and performance indicators might be developed and aligned to state and national standards. It is entirely a local decision to develop a clear and descriptive set of standards aligned to EQS that could be used to craft flexible learning pathways for students.

This section also highlights the rationale and provides Guiding Questions for Discussion around assessment literacy in a standards-based learning environment. Since assessment is a regular and routine part of learning; to successfully implement PLPs, the school needs to identify an assessment structure that will be used to verify achievement of common learning expectations, academic standards, transferable skills, and student goals.

Step 1: Identify/adopt standards and performance indicators aligned with state academic standards

Rationale

A necessary component of a Personalized Learning Plan is mapping the academic standards against the pathway that the student will follow to demonstrate competency/proficiency and graduate. To conduct this step, a school will need to carefully review the state’s academic standards and develop a manageable set of content-specific standards and performance indicators.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How much experience has the faculty had collaboratively working on national or state standards?
  2. What standards are crucial for graduation? What knowledge and skills are essential in each content area for graduation?
  3. How are we ensuring that our local standards and performance indicators are aligned to the national and state level standards?
  4. What process will be used to engage faculty in creating these standards?
  5. How will we ensure that our standards are manageable, enduring, and high-leverage?
  6. How will we help our faculty unpack the graduation standards to create the performance indicators?
  7. How will we ensure that the performance indicators align with the graduation standards and build upon each other as appropriate?

Step 2: Identify/adopt standards and performance indicators aligned with transferable skills

Rationale

Personalized learning pathways are designed around the understanding that students will have a carefully crafted approach to meeting standards essential to success in our global society. Cross-curricular graduation standards highlight the transferable skills necessary for success in the 21st century. Performance indicators provide the detailed descriptions and measurable language associated with these skills.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How will our school measure progress and demonstration of these transferable skills?
  2. What are our assumptions and experiences about how school faculty understand and support the concept of transferable skills?

Step 3: Build faculty capacity regarding assessment literacy

Rationale

Implementing PLPs requires faculty members to have a deep understanding regarding the various methods to assess student achievement of academic standards, transferrable skills, and individual student goals. Quality assessing of these various components will ensure greater flexibility for students and ultimately increased personalization.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How well do the school’s assessments evaluate the knowledge and skills students need for success?
  2. How do teachers use formative assessment to guide instruction and provide feedback to students?
  3. How do the school’s summative assessments ensure students demonstrate the skills and knowledge of the standards?
  4. What opportunities do all students have to demonstrate deep understanding of standards?
  5. To what extent can students inform/design ways to demonstrate their knowledge and skills?
  6. How do teachers use multiple forms of assessment to engage and assess student learning in pathway experiences?

Step 4: Design/adopt assessment structure

Rationale

Assessment is a regular and routine part of learning; to successfully implement PLPs, the school needs to identify an assessment structure that will be used to verify achievement of academic standards, transferable skills, and student goals. The structure may include regular classroom assessments, common school wide assessments, performance assessments, and even rubrics to assess a body of evidence.

In particular, transferable skills are not demonstrable through a single example of achievement but comprise skills that must be demonstrated over time and across multiple venues. Consequently, the only manner in which these can be assessed is by reviewing a collection of student work – a body of evidence – demonstrating achievement. The process will need to include students collecting their work to prove their achievement and ensure reliability in the scoring process both across students and across scorers.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. What assessment methods are better suited for different types of learning standards?
  2. What support do students need in order to create and implement unique assessments to determine achievement of their goals?
  3. What structures are required to enable students to take and retake assessments? What type of assessments work best in this scenario?

Step 5: Design/adopt assessments for demonstration of standards and performance indicators

Rationale

The actual assessments used to measure achievement of academic standards, transferable skills, and performance indicators need to be of high quality, valid, and deliver repeatable results. In addition, the breadth of assessments must employ a breadth of assessment methods matched to the nuances of the specific standards.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. What assessment process will be used to ensure that students have demonstrated proficiency in each content area standard or Essential Quality Standard?
  2. Will the results of all performance indicator assessments be used to verify proficiency or will you use some sort of trending strategy?
  3. What evidence will be used for transferable skills?
  4. Who will be responsible for assessing transferable skills?
  5. Is there a process for teachers to share the assessment responsibilities with learning pathway experts?

Resources to support the steps associated with academic standards

Education Quality Standards, Vermont State Board of Education
Proposed rule, voted in favor on December 17, 2013.

Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified
Developed by Great Schools Partnership, this is one approach to developing local graduation standards and performance indicators aligned to state and national standards.

NESSC Briefing #10: What are learning standards?

NESSC Leadership in Action Supplement: What do today’s students need to know?

Global Best Practices
Developed by the Great Schools Partnership for the New England Secondary Schools Consortium, Global Best Practices is an internationally benchmarked self-assessment tool for secondary schools.

Examples of local standards aligned to national standards documents

New Hampshire’s Competency Based Model

Competency-Based Pathways

Maine’s Proficiency Based Learning Simplified Sample Graduation Standards

Getting to Proficiency, Maine Department of Education

Mathematics Graduation Standards aligned to CCSS

ELA Competencies aligned to CCSS

Social Studies aligned to Maine Learning Results

Cross-Curricular Skills Crosswalk, 21st Century Skills

21st Century Skills and Assessment Documents

Definition: 21st Century Skills
Glossary for Education Reform, A Resource of Great Schools Partnership.

Assessment: A 21st Century Skills Implementation Guide
Produced by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning.

Seven Survival Skills
Tony Wagner and the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Misconceptions About Standards-Based Reforms
Article written by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins; Addresses instruction and assessment in standards-based education

Questions?

Debi Price, Project Manager, at debora.price@state.vt.us or (802) 479-1172

Page Last Updated on September 18, 2014