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UMDI Evaluation of Extended Learning Opportunities Highlights the Need for Changes in NH Educator Development

On November 8, 2010, UMDI’s Steven Ellis and Ivana Zuliani addressed the New Hampshire Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) Network for 21st Century Education at Southern New Hampshire University. Their presentation focused on the implications of Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) for educator development. UMDI’s Applied Research and Evaluation Unit is evaluating ELO implementation and outcomes in four “ELO Pilot” high schools that have received extensive technical assistance and professional development through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and  the New Hampshire Department of Education (NH DOE).

ELOs include a wide range of credit-bearing student-directed learning experiences. They bring students together with a highly qualified teacher (HQT) and a knowledgeable community partner to create a unique, “real-world” learning experience. ELOs typically take place outside the traditional classroom and require that students demonstrate mastery of specific competencies. Extended learning opportunities and a focus on student mastery of required competencies—as opposed to measurement of classroom “seat time”—are key components of NH DOE’s vision for high school redesign.

The IHE network was launched as a forum for NH DOE, institutions of higher education, and other stakeholders to share knowledge of changes in education policy and practice, and develop a shared vision for educator development in the state, with a focus on reforms needed to support the evolving needs of public schools in the 21st century.
Findings of the ELO evaluation highlight the need to increase educators’ readiness to support ELOs and competency-based education in New Hampshire. The researchers conclude that educator development programs can help ensure that teachers come into the field ready to support rigorous student ELOs by:

1.  Increasing teacher awareness and acceptance of new and non-traditional approaches to teaching and learning
2.  Providing teachers with specific knowledge, skills, and experience in related areas:

• Facilitating student-directed & inquiry-based learning
• Integrating experiential learning into their teaching
• Using competency-based teaching methods
• Using competency-based assessment and grading in their practice

For further information pertaining to the evaluation of the New Hampshire Extended Learning Opportunities initiative, please contact Ivana Zuliani or Steven Ellis.

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