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The New England Network for Personalization and Performance (NETWORK)
Winter 2014
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The NETWORK NEWS a periodically published newsletter intended to share the developments of 13 networked schools across 4 states. This project is funded by a Federal I3 grant that is bringing over 11, 000 students together to create authentic tasks and utilizing common rubrics to measure uncommon assessment tasks, while fostering personalized learning resulting in higher student achievement, as demonstrated by lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates and demonstrable success after high school. 
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What's Happening in the The Network


Laconia High School's Performance Based Assessments


Laconia High School is implementing Performance Based Assessments (PBAs) that tie content learning directly to students' college and career aspirations. This is done using a vertical design that consistently integrates students' voices and choices into the curriculum delivery each year throughout each student's four year educational career.  In this way, we are working to ensure students graduate from our educational community with the skills needed to move toward their chosen goals.

Laconia High School has been part of the CCSR i3 Network for four years. Our original direction involved the development and implementation of Extended Learning Opportunities. The philosophy behind ELOs seemed to work well for those students who had the discipline to stick with the work they designed and the structured due dates that came with it. In the last two years, we have worked to integrate that philosophy into our overall four year program so that students developed the desire to "own" their education. This has resulted in greater engagement for our students. Students have an increased awareness of the relevance of what they are learning, they are more aware of how their education can be connected to the future they want to have, and they are regularly asked to assess how their current performance is moving them toward or away from the goals they have set.

In the freshman year, all students participate in essays designed to get them to compare and contrast their perceived behavior and motivations with those of characters in the novels they are reading. The task is specifically designed to help students understand personal choice and the logical consequences that occur when these choices are made. During this year, students also participate in CareerCruising and discuss how motivation and choices determine opportunity.

During the sophomore year, students engage in the "What is Right for Me" PBA in the social studies program. This multi-week effort requires students to review their educational choices and develop their own college and career plan.. Through research and discussion, they design their direction in a real world way and formally present their projects in class.

As students enter their junior year, LHS students, their parents and guidance counselors engage in "The Junior Review." This is a comprehensive review of performance and choices the student has made thus far in their high school career. It includes an honest discussion on the direction the students efforts are moving them in relation to the goals they set the previous year. In American Studies, our Junior level humanities program, students develop 12 essays that represent their understanding of what it means to be an American. This PBA requires all Juniors to present a position paper on how they see themselves as a citizen of the United States based on their work in understanding the development of our nation and it's interaction with other nations.

We are currently developing a pilot for all seniors that requires them to complete an independent study that engages students in formally planning their post graduation plans. This PBA, called "Where I am Going Next," ensures seniors have a plan they understand and own for the day after they walk across the stage with their diploma.

It is exciting to see students engage in their own aspirations through real research and formal presentation. We look forward to sharing our vision with others in the upcoming months.




A PAR Board Visit to Mount Abraham Regional Middle/High School highlights the best of the Network!



Recently the PAR Board visited Mount Abraham Regional Middle/High School.  This visit provided a great example of what is now possible in terms of personalizing for performance, using inquiry learning, and authentic performance assessment strategies.


The three PAR Board Members undertook calibrating student work that was submitted in advance of the visit itself.  Accordingly, they used the school's 9thgrade science laboratory report rubric to examine and assess three examples of student lab reports from an inquiry assignment into the causes of stream erosion.  Two members subsequently and individually examined and assigned numerical values from the rubric in assessing the three reports, and found that each assessed the work in essential agreement with the other member's valuation.


Subsequently and during the visit, these two members also met with the two science teachers who had developed, taught and assessed the unit.  In comparing notes, the four of us determined that we had each assigned essentially the same numerical values to the three pieces of work - thus assuring us that the two Mt. Abraham teachers and two former-science-teacher PAR Board members were in essential agreement regarding the valuation of all three lab reports.

Additionally, the teachers then demonstrated how they use technology to generate, present and utilize formative student performance data in real-time.  The system allows them to collect and record student data, and to display it in relation to established learning standards.  Further, a graphical display of data points clearly indicates which students are meeting or exceeding standards and those who are not.

Once trends are established, the teachers then use this system to identify those students whose performance should be celebrated and which may require additional attention as well as intervention to meet both content and skills standards.

This example is described in some detail here because the work of these two teachers should be valorized for their innovative approach to collecting and using a) inquiry learning and authentically assessing performance; and b) using the data gained thereby as a tool for personalizing student learning support and intervention.


Both teachers reported that their work in this project has resulted in higher student engagement and performance in their own classes; and that some 10th grade science teachers have reported to them that the students who have experienced this flexible and responsive instructional stratagem seem to be better prepared in subsequent science courses than those who have not.



A "Showcase" of Authentic Assessment at Plymouth South High School


Plymouth South High School has had an exciting year, and the energy surrounding authentic assessments and senior project is growing.  In November, we held our second annual "Showcase Week" where teachers visited classrooms of their peers who were showcasing specific lessons that focused on Authentic learning.  Teachers in all major content areas participated and the sharing among colleagues was fantastic.  This professional collaboration has been integral to our success as staff school-wide does not view Authentic Assessment as just another initiative. 


Our third annual senior project showcase was January 16th and we were fortunate to have a great showing from our local community to serve as judges on the many boards.  We are still working hard to add senior project as a graduation requirement at Plymouth South, yet in the meantime the high level of our student projects is fabulous as well as the real world experiences.  A  list of our students and their topics are below. 



  • Nate Benjamin - Rules of the Water - Marshfield Harbor Master
  • Jessica Blakeman - Therapy Behind Concussions - Spaulding Rehabilitation
  • Julianne DelosReyes - Life of an Audio Engineer - The Record Co.
  • Abby Firth - Reverse Inclusion at a Middle School - Plymouth South Middle School
  • Brittany Jerome - Where Challenge Meet Success - Massachusetts Hospital School
  • Alexis Laforest - Children's Hospital Boston: Where Every Child is Well
  • Kate Parker - Jewelry Design - Lilianna Designs
  • Bethany Rogers - Edcamp: Imagine the Possibilities - EdTechTeacher
  • Kayla Vivona - Pediatric Anesthesia - Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Angel Willis-Connors - LGBTQ Awareness -  Foundation for International Justice
  • Matt Bremis - Law Enforcement: The FBI - Plymouth Sheriff's Department
  • Kara Doherty - Sociology of Oncology Patients - Jordan Hospital
  • Tabitha Fantoni - Fashion: How People are Attracted to Certain Styles - Ralph Lauren
  • Tavia Harrington - Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice System - Plymouth Police Department
  • Catherine Iannucci - Journalism - The Boston Globe
  • Brendan McGowan - Effects of Forestation on Red Pandas - Franklin Park Zoo
  • Aidan Mulligan - Effects of Cancer Treatments on the Patient - Jordan Hospital
  • Maggie Pappas - Pharmacology - Springfield Hospital
  • Gloria Rinkus - Exposing Young Girls to the Sport of Lacrosse - Massachusetts Mavericks
  • Alex Souther - How Political Campaigns Gain the Voter's Interest
  • Jill Wells - Fashion: The Psychological and Social Impacts - Ralph Lauren
  • Emma Andrews - Tattoo Artistry
  • Deanna Boutchia - ESL Education - Taunton Public Schools
  • Ally Daley - International Health and Global Development - Partners in Health
  • Julia Daly - Baking and Pastry Management - Concord Teacakes
  • Marisa Kanter - Broadcast Journalism - WBZ Channel 4
  • Bethanne Keane - Fashion - Daisy Riley
  • Merry Kelly - Animal Rescue - Survivor Tails Rescue
  • Sammantha LaRochelle - Translation Services - Acclaro
  • Amanda Marcotte - Pathology and Lab Sciences - Tuft's Medical Center
  • Shane McIvor - Crossfit - Baystate Crossfit
  • Katie O'Neill - Food Waste and Charitable Donations - South Shore Community Action Counsel
  • Kyle Richard - Branding Design - Red Antler


Senior Project judges enjoying lunches prior to the event.




News and Events for The Network:


New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan visited Pittsfield Middle School on January 17th to see the impact of their redesign plan and adoption of a student-centered learning approach that aims to put students first and empower them to take ownership of their learning. 

Click on the link below to view an article about her visit: 



Below is a link to a Nellie Mae video created about Pittsfield Middle School: 

NASSP/CSSR School Showcase will be taking place in Dallas.  Five of the Network schools have been hand selected to present their story of success to a national audience of educators. See below for more information!

Breaking Ranks 2014 School Showcase


What better way to learn about best practices in education than from some of the most successful, innovative educators in the country? NASSP and The Center for Secondary School Redesign (CSSR) are proud to team together to present the sixth Breaking Ranks School Showcase, featuring teams from 22 high-achieving middle level and high schools who will share their proven strategies for addressing today's top education issues.


Learn first-hand how these diverse schools-recognized for their success in providing high-quality education-are implementing the recommendations and strategies included in the Breaking Ranks Framework. Find out how they overcame challenges, leveraged resources, and managed to raise student achievement to the next level. Network with pioneering educators from across the country as you and your team explore what schools have done-and what your school can do-to improve student performance.


Each school showcase presentation is 90 minutes. Participating schools will conduct concurrent presentations during one of four session times.  Please visit for a presentation schedule and session descriptions.


The school showcase is part of the NASSP Conference taking place February 6, 2014 in Dallas, TX.  Five NETWORK schools - Laconia High School, Plymouth North High School, Nashua High School North, Nashua High School South and Pittsfield Middle High School - will present their story of success to a national audience of school leaders and teachers. Congratulations and best of luck in Dallas!  
In preparation for the school showcase, Laconia was asked to write an article for the latest edition of NASSP's Principal Leadership publication.  Jim McCollum and Steve Tucker wrote a piece titled, "High School Meets the Real World."
Click here to view Jim McCollum and Steve Tucker's "High School Meets the Real World." Looking forward to the School Showcase Nashua schools shared what they are most looking forward to in Dallas at the and also what they will be speaking about. That information is below:

NENPP has been key to our emphasis on collaboration.  The network concept that is core to the i3 grant has reinforced our goal to collaborate between our two schools. NENPP has provided resources to help us work with partners within our city and around our region.   Through the PAR Board visits, we have been able to see how other schools are engaging their students and personalizing their high school experiences .   Through the summer institutes we have been focused on affording students to have an opportunity to be involved in a meaningful manner in work that is embracing competencies and new grading practices.    "The resources of the NETWORK have been invaluable as we seek to continually improve instruction and engage students. The School Showcase is always a great way to find out what other schools are doing well and to be inspired to bring back practices that we can emulate." 


While we are looking forward to sharing our story, we also know that the feedback we receive during NASSP/Ignite 2014 will help improve our work when we return and continue to move ahead.  "We are very excited to be able to hear the keynote given by Carol Dweck.   We are very interested in the importance of establishing a growth mindset. We are truly looking forward to that presentation."




  • 9:45AM - 11:15AM
  • Thursday, February 6th
  • Dallas A3

Through collaboration and distributed leadership, the staffs at New Hampshire's Nashua High School North and Nashua High School South work together regularly to examine data, develop curricula, and ensure all students, regardless of which school they attend, have a rigorous, engaging, personalized experience.    Administrators, teachers, and students in both schools stay focused on the same goal: learning.  Participants will leave with an effective model and resources they can replicate in schools with whom they want to partner.

Presented by:

Nashua High School North & South

Nashua, NH

Demographics: Urban

Students: 4,000

  Laconia Schools also shared an abstract of their presentation in Dallas, and what they are most looking forward to. See below:

Laconia High School is using Performance Based Assessments (PBAs) as means to assist students toward owning their own futures. The PBAs are designed to do three things:


1. Help students learn relevant content

2. Build stronger literacy and numeracy skills

3. Help students define their future based on choices they are making in the present


This programming builds upon itself each year as students work to develop their understanding of themselves and their college and career aspirations through work that is relevant to their goals. The work is also rigorous in that it requires a consistently increasing level of complexity and higher order processing. The programming also invites the development of stronger relationships throughout the educational community as students learn to share and explore their future with teachers who are motivated to ensure they learn in high school what truly is required to be college and career ready upon graduation.

We are looking forward to the time to learn from and interact with colleagues around the nation.


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