Across New Hampshire and Beyond
info@best-future.org

Building Essential Skills Today
for the Future

improving student learning in partnership with research towards large-scale change

IMPROVING LEARNING

When teachers choose to improve the way they teach, get the support they need, and are able to lead, we believe that is when real change happens to how and what students learn.

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PARTNERING WITH RESEARCH

Research has much to learn from what teachers are doing and teachers can be more powerful when informed by research. Strengthening the bridge between the two is a critical step in our process.

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TAKING TO SCALE

Start with where teachers and schools are at, map change to esisting systems and realities, throw in a trusted intermediary or two, create a common framework and langauge and watch it grow.

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WHAT IS BEST?

An effort to elevate the teaching and assessment of essential skills in our schools

BEST is working to shift how students learn and demonstrate essentials skills like communication, collaboration, creativity, and self-direction (aka Work Study Practices). We are doing this through a developmentally backed research framework, teacher professional development, new instruction in the classroom, and use of a statewide performance assessment system rooted in competency-based education (PACE). We are also building the evidence base that this works for ALL students.

BEST is a dynamic group of teachers and leaders in four New Hampshire school districts (Laconia, Rochester, Sanborn and Souhegan), the New Hampshire Learning Initiative (NHLI), the Center for Innovation in Education (CIE), the New Hampshire Department of Education, KnowledgeWorks and JFF (Jobs for the Future) with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Our 4-Part Recipe

Making changes to how students learn is no easy task.  It requires a unique blend of elements to make it all work. Here is what the BEST collaboration sees as key ingredients to successful large-scale change.

INSTRUCTION IN ESSENTIAL SKILLS

New Hampshire’s Work Study Practices are four essential skills and dispositions — collaboration, communication, creativity, self-direction — backed by a developmental research framework. Studentts need to learn these skills through intentional instruction if they are to master them.

TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Teachers work within an improvement cycle frame to learn how to design, instruct, and assess competency-based lessons on work study practices. This opt-in training strengthens teacher ownership and agency. No change in education happens without teacher expertise and buy-in.

STATEWIDE PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT SYSTEM

New Hampshire has build statewide performance assessment system for competency-based education (PACE) that has been shown validitly and reliably assess student content knowledge. BEST believes this same system can be the backbone to scaling success skills (aka Work Study Practices).

RESEARCH TO PRACTICE TO RESEARCH

The Work Study Practices (or essential skills) in New Hampshire are grounded in a research-based developmental framework. This framework is being translated into rubrics and used by teachers in classrooms to pilot and improve for use by other teachers.  In turn, we are working to take what we learn from practice to improve evidence in the research domain.

THE STUDY SCHOOL DISTRICTS 

Testing Essential Skills in the Classroom

BEST is working with teachers and leaders in four New Hampshire school districts to design, pilot and assess the use of grade-banded rubrics for the SELF-DIRECTION essential skill (aka Work Study Practice).  Their work will feedback into the larger performance assessment or competency-based education system of over three dozen districts.

LACONIA

Ensuring success with every student, every day, in every way

ROCHESTER

Personalized for all students to be, responsible, and contributing citizens 

SANBORN

Committed to promoting respect, academic excellence, and pride by encouraging independent thinking within a culture of collaboration

SOUHEGAN

Putting the student at the center to provide the foundation and encouragement for success

Change in action!

To change student learning, we first need to support teachers with the knowledge and skills they need make the improvements necessary to bring essential skill learning and assessment to their classrooms 

Voices from the field

Hear what students, teachers and employers have to say about learning essential skills.

Collaboration is my strength.  Being able to talk to other people and work together is something I’ve excelled at in the work study practice projects.  They have shown me that, yes, collaboration is a strength.

Paige

Grade 12 Student

Everyone needs to learn these skills before they graduate.  It doesn’t matter if the person next to you does it faster.  What matters is that when you leave here you have the skills and knowleldge.

Angel Burke

Laconia School District Leader

More

We are looking for people who are interested in what they are doing and in growing their education.  We don’t want people who are waiting to be told what to do.  We want people ready to be part of the modern workforce.

Val Zanchuk

President of Graphicast 

Want to know more? Send us an email.

What’s New?

Regular updates from our work in the field including videos, photos, refletions, and leading thoughts from the many great people that are working on this effort.

Introducing BEST for the Future

Building Essential Skills Today (BEST) for the Future is an effort to elevate the teaching and assessment of essential skills in our schools. BEST is working to shift how students[…]

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Hello from New Hampshire!

In November 2018, three dozen teachers from over 10 districts gathered at Souhegan High School in Amherst, NH to start the process of creating new social studies performance tasks that[…]

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Guiding Organizations

with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation