More than 60 adults gathered at the historic Lightkeepers House in Cohasset, Massachusetts, on July 26 to experience project-based learning as a community: educators, parents, local businesses and nonprofit organizations, and civic leaders.

We as educators need to reclaim assessment. Specifically, we need to do a better job of answering the following three essential questions so that everyone understands the vital role that assessment plays in learning and teaching.

What kind of school learning environments and experiences would be so compelling that everyone who was a part of it wouldn't just enjoy it, but be compelled to tell others about the experience?

I've had the opportunity to work with and learn from many other schools as they've shifted to personalized learning. Every implementation is different, but crucial leadership decisions typically fall into these four areas.

Learning should resemble a variety of unique threads -- passion, profession, innovation, and curiosity -- that make up the fabric of a holistic experience. To ask that educators create and maintain personalized pathways for students is to require that those same pathways are presented to educators.

What if we reimagined our school system as a superhighway that is a network of career development pathways? What if this expressway contained no traffic lights or other obstructions, enabling students to travel quickly toward their career aspirations with the promise of employment in a growing priority sector of work upon graduation?

Learning design innovators have felt constrained by the traditional transcript. Fortunately, forward-thinking organizations are now collaborating with school-based innovators--and by working with networks of schools, districts, and systems, they're building an ecosystem in which deeper, personalized, and mastery-based learning can thrive.

We've created The Modern Classrooms Project, a nonprofit organization that supports our blended, self-paced, mastery-based approach to teaching and learning. This summer, we brought eight teachers of different courses together for a week of self-directed professional development. Here's what happened.

Building positive habits early on prepares our kids for a more autonomous and inspired existence. While it may seem light-years away as you watch them finger-paint, the future--and their role in it--is swiftly on its way.

Without leaders who are actively supporting our most innovative educators through the investment of resources like time, professional learning, and coaching, we run a high risk of our best teachers feeling as if their efforts are being trivialized.


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