Commissioner Jeff Riley released his vision for Massachusetts public schools in his report, Our Way Forward. Will Massachusetts school reach new heights or just leave us seeing stars?
In June 2019, Commissioner Riley shared his Our Way Forward report with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The four main themes of the report are:
- Deeper Learning for All
- Holistic Support and Enrichment
- Innovation and Evidence-Based Practices
- The State as a Partner
In the Commissioner’s presentation to the BESE, he highlighted several existing DESE initiatives as well future “flexibilities” that will keep Massachusetts public schools more like Netflix than Blockbuster.
The first new pilot program to move forward will be the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning.
What is the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning?
Commissioner Riley’s report describes the initial goals of the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning as practices that will:
- Create a research and development (R&D) hub of educators, schools, and districts focused on incubating and assessing innovative approaches to deeper learning, including standards-aligned instruction and assessment (Theme I)
- Form a highly engaged network of practitioners, through which holistic support (wraparound) and enrichment efforts and evidence-based practices can be identified and shared (Themes II and III)
- Model a new approach for how DESE can partner with the field to support adoption of promising practices, especially those shown to close achievement gaps, while respecting and learning from each community’s context (Theme IV)
The application for participation in the Kaleidoscope project will be available sometime this fall; the program is expected to begin in January 2020.
The Commissioner’s goals for 2019-20 include the following Kaleidoscope targets:
Launch the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning network with an initial cohort of schools and districts selected by January. Kaleidoscope is designed to provide participants with flexibility and support to foster and scale Deeper Learning models that improve learning for all students. Within Kaleidoscope,
- We will create a working group to review and evaluate performance tasks and to identify 25–50 engaging, high-quality student performance tasks that are aligned to the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks. These will be implemented by Kaleidoscope schools and published on the Deeper Learning online platform.
- Participants will engage in rigorous professional development focused on creating Deeper Learning environments. The professional development will include face-to-face convenings throughout the school year and summer, school-based coaching, and ongoing feedback.
- We will collaborate with districts and schools within Kaleidoscope to develop and pilot innovative performance-based assessment models that measure student achievement, engagement, and skill development aligned to Deeper Learning
If you are interested in engaging in deeper learning about the DESE’s deeper learning initiatives, you can follow their home page at www.doe.mass.edu/deeperlearning.
One thought on “Our Way Forward: Commissioner Riley’s Kaleidoscope”
Riley said he consistently heard about the benefits of state standards, but also about unintended consequences, including narrowing of curriculum and more rote instruction and test preparation, sometimes at the expense of subjects beyond math and English. As such, we ve sometimes seen that kids are presented with material that is less challenging and even shallow, he said. We need to keep going deeper, to engage our students with high-quality tasks or activities that are certainly aligned to our state standards that result in students retaining the information in deeper ways, he told the board.
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