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Aurora Institute

Press Release

New CompetencyWorks Case Study Offers Resources for Schools, Districts, and States to Rethink Their Approach to Assessment

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 10, 2020—As states and school systems grapple with K-12 assessment in the wake of COVID-19, a new resource from the CompetencyWorks initiative of the Aurora Institute (@Aurora_Inst) offers a case study and roadmap of how Vermont is building educator capacity for innovative, performance assessment for personalized, proficiency-based education.

Strengthening Local Assessment Systems for Personalized, Proficiency-Based Education: Strategies and Tools for Professional Learning describes a coordinated set of convenings in Vermont to support schools, districts, and other education organizations seeking to create high-quality local comprehensive systems of assessments. It offers an overview of the rationale and essential components of the new system, formative and summative performance assessments, and student-designed performance assessments.

“The moment for rethinking K-12 assessment is here, and this new brief is a treasure trove of professional learning for educators, administrators, system leaders, and education policymakers,” said Susan Patrick, President and CEO of the Aurora Institute. “It is time for states to rethink how changes to assessment systems can support more equitable opportunities for all students to have powerful learning experiences and demonstrate mastery.”

Assessment is essential for understanding what students have learned and for providing transparency and fairness when it comes to certifying mastery of knowledge and skills. Assessment can provide timely feedback to students, parents, and educators on where students are in their learning and to inform the supports that they need to succeed. Traditional K-12 assessment, however, often comes too late to inform instruction or support learners’ improvement.

Vermont is a national leader in developing comprehensive assessment systems for proficiency-based education. Since passing Act 77 in 2013, the state’s school systems have undergone significant shifts in teaching and learning. Most notably, learning is now personalized, and students learn on flexible pathways, advancing when they’ve demonstrated proficiency. Strengthening Local Assessment Systems for Personalized, Proficiency-Based Education: Strategies and Tools for Professional Learning, authored by the state’s proficiency-based learning team leader at the Agency of Education, is an inside view of how assessments were restructured as part of these changes. The brief is available for download here:

About Aurora Institute

Aurora’s mission is to drive the transformation of education systems and accelerate the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all. Aurora is shaping the future of teaching and learning for more than 14 million students through its work in policy advocacy, research, and field-building/convening. We work on systems change in K-12 education, promote best practices, examine policy barriers, and make recommendations for change. Aurora has a national and global view of education innovation and lifts up promising policies and practices that yield improved outcomes for students. Aurora envisions a world where all people are empowered to attain the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to achieve success, contribute to their communities, and advance society.


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