Partnership remains at the core of NWEA, and it’s the foundation of our Partners in Innovation program. This program helps us better understand what’s going on in schools, gain crucial insights to improve our products, and further our mission by partnering with our teachers and students. Classroom research, when done effectively, offers invaluable insight into current practices, issues, and trends. The desire to better understand what is happening at the school level is what motivated us to start the Partners in Innovation program in 2014. The objective was, and still is, to work with schools to develop innovative approaches to assessment, professional learning, data delivery, and technology.
Some of the topics our researchers are looking forward to exploring through their classroom research include:
- increasing student engagement in learning and assessment
- observing and evaluating student performance
- teacher feedback and perspective on new items types or new assessment designs
- crafting innovative ideas for assessment tasks
- creating engaging professional learning
- increasing parental engagement in the educational process
- assessing English language learners in their native language
- evaluating new reporting styles
Our Partners in Innovation schools play an active role in selecting projects at their schools. Since the program’s launch, we have had the privilege of working with many teachers and students in our Partners in Innovation schools. Our researchers have been to North Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Washington, and Illinois to interview and observe teachers and students and obtain their perspectives on a variety of topics, including ‘gameful’ assessment and performance tasks versus traditional assessment.
Students in several of our Partners in Innovation schools have been given the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions about their learning styles through an online survey, and our researchers have also taken some of our prototype assessment ideas into classrooms across the US to elicit feedback about potential new assessment tools.
Here’s what one of our Partners in Innovation school administrators had to say about his own experience as a participant for the past two school years:
Our experiences just continue to reaffirm the value of relationships. Our partnership with NWEA and the relationships that have grown from these partnerships continue to personalize the product. Students appreciate opportunities where they can understand their importance or their significance.
It is important for students to learn that their interests, opinions, and needs are truly valued by others outside of the classroom or their homes. They love knowing that they have a chance to influence “the world” around them or improve their experiences in school. Our staff feels a sense of connection as they also feel valued. Knowing that an organization is responsive to their needs, and willing to partner with them to find solutions, helps to take some of the pressure and anxiety off the culture of accountability that has been so aggressively cultivated in education today.
— Kevin Simmons, Principal of Prairie Trails School in Wadsworth, IL
As the new school year is underway, we’re inviting schools to join us in cutting-edge research. Participating schools receive stipends that will be rewarded on a per-study basis. Click here if you are interested in learning more about the Partners in Innovation program! We’d love to hear from you.