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Learning Technology Grant Program Overview: Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES

Award Years: 2021-2024

Authentic, Accessible Assessment for All: Leveraging Technology to Strengthen Teaching and Leading Practices

Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES is headquartered in Yorktown Heights, New York and primarily serves school districts in the Lower Hudson Valley (Putnam and Westchester Counties, specifically). This project will utilize a consortium model, and fourteen districts throughout Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan, and Westchester counties will participate. These fourteen districts are exceptionally diverse and are in suburban and rural communities throughout the region. The diverse array of participating districts will help the project be more representative of the learners and leaders across the state who may benefit from the resources created and meet the needs of a diverse population.

For example, one participating district, Ossining Union Free School District, is a Target District, and is comprised of 12% English Language Learners, 12% students with disabilities, and 61% of students are economically-disadvantaged learners. Peekskill City School District is also a Target District where 80% of the student population are economically disadvantaged, 24% of the student population are designated as English Language Learners, and 16% of the student population are students with disabilities. Liberty Central School District is classified as a rural district, with 9% of the student population classified as English Language Learners and 66% of students identified as economically disadvantaged.

The target audience for this grant are teams from the consortium districts comprised of students, classroom teachers, and instructional leaders. The teams will include four teachers and one administrator from each district in the first cohort, and then in the third year, will include an additional fifty-six teachers and fourteen administrators. The district teams range from teachers of grades 3 – 12 and are either grade level or content specific.

With the first cohort of district teams, the grant has the potential to service approximately 8,400 students, and it is anticipated a similar number will be serviced in the third year of the grant. The total number of students potentially benefiting from the grant, across all the participating districts is approximately 41,115. 

This program will enhance and innovate teaching and learning throughout the region and state by growing participant capacity for, and commitment to, technology-enhanced, authentic and accessible assessment for learning. Participants will build their understanding of effective and student-focused assessment task design and of how to create, facilitate, and evaluate authentic assessments for a variety of learning environments.

The professional learning experiences that will support participating districts during all three phases of the grant are designed to impact student learning and to build teacher, leader, school, and district capacity. Participating educators will take part in job-embedded learning experiences that require active engagement and application. They will work collaboratively to co-create, give and receive feedback, reflect, and use feedback to revise and adjust. As educators design, they will have ongoing support from grant facilitators, from school leaders, and from each other. Ultimately, the professional learning designed and implemented for the purpose of this grant will help to increase educator effectiveness and support increased student success. The professional learning experiences will also model best practices in assessment and will utilize a universal design approach that recognizes who students currently are, what they bring with them to the classroom and to tasks and assessments, and how to support growth for learners, leaders, and the community-at-large.

The program will enable teachers and leaders to serve as learners together. While teachers will expand their knowledge and skills as they design authentic, accessible technology-infused assessment tasks, building- and district-level administrators will cultivate their capacity as instructional leaders to assess and provide feedback and support to their staff on curriculum, instruction, and assessment that utilizes technology for learning.

Through a focus on the principles of Universal Design for Learning, educators will gain a richer understanding of how to construct and support the development of tasks that are accessible to all learners and through which all students can see themselves. In this way, culturally-responsive and linguistically-responsive practices will be incorporated throughout the project.

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