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Collaborative Partnership Improves Student Learning for Boston Public Schools

[fa icon="calendar"] September, 2017 / by Press Room

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Late in 2016, district leaders for the Boston Public Schools (BPS) identified a challenge for their system: It was difficult to assess student learning consistently and accurately for their 125 schools, because curriculum and pacing for each grade varied across schools.  

The challenge: multiple curricula

BPS needed a set of assessments that could provide comparable measurement aligned to common standards across the multiple curricula and pacing plans. Specifically,

  • The assessments needed to be aligned to Massachusetts state standards and provide the same level of rigor that students would be expected to demonstrate on the state accountability tests.
  • District leaders sought high-quality assessment resources that would be coherent and consistent at the classroom, district, and state levels to measure student learning.
  • They needed a set of periodic* tests that would provide meaningful data to support classroom instruction, promote equity and foster a climate of high expectations for student achievement, and be culturally relevant and fair to all students.

BPS chose Measured Progress to help.

The solution: customized assessments

When asked why BPS chose Measured Progress, Michael Rubino, formative assessment manager in the BPS Office of Data and Accountability said, “The quality of the content, the company’s reputation as being a good partner to districts, and the staff’s understanding of the Common Core and the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks really made Measured Progress stand out.”

Collaborative partnership brings district, content, and technology together

The primary members of the team—BPS, Measured Progress, and the delivery platform provider, Illuminate Education— worked together to create a set of common district-wide interim assessments for the 2016–17 school year.

The district and Measured Progress worked collaboratively with and for schools on smooth implementation. More than 46 schools participated in the initial administrations of these custom assessments. Administrations occurred in October 2016, February 2017, and April 2017. Each subsequent administration included additional schools. At its peak, the 2016–17 program assessed more than 25 percent of the district’s 3rd through 6th graders. Participation was voluntary during the first year, to provide a deliberate, phased-in approach. Nicole Wagner Lam, executive director, Office of Data and Accountability, and Rubino saw the project as a success. “It’s a very seamless relationship in terms of working together with Measured Progress,” said Wagner Lam. “Their attitude,” added Rubino, is always “How can we best support you and your students?”

What’s next?

For the 2017–18 school year, the team is working to add professional development, solidify curriculum recommendations, and pilot performance tasks and science content for BPS. Working together with Measured Progress and Illuminate, Boston educators will continue to promote student achievement and improve student learning for the future. 

Read the case study to learn the key success factors that BPS identified for the project.

* Educators use different terms for assessments that measure recent instruction. See our Balanced Assessment System infographic for more information on assessment terminology. 

Topics: Classroom Assessment, Assessment Literacy, Formative Assessment, Interim Assessments, Connecting Teaching and Learning

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Our Press Room chooses topics of interest from activities around the company, to provide a closer look at ways to improve learning and instruction, and to help demystify assessment issues.