Initially, the design team worked to build consensus around equitable grading practices and the connections with balanced assessment systems. This was done through the exploration of research and practitioner literature on the topic, including publications by Dr. Thomas Guskey, Dr. Susan Brookhart, and Joe Feldman. These conversations and research led to the co-development of online learning modules that could be used in schools and districts across the state.
Working from experience, the consultants from ALP proposed to ODE that the PLC would be most effective if educators had some incentive to participate in the learning, and some level of accountability was promoted. Educators’ experience during the COVID-19 pandemic created interest and a need to explore the topic, and a graduate continuing credit opportunity was arranged with an Oregon university for interested participants. Because a new community requires structure to succeed, initial accountability was provided in the structure and flow of the learning modules, which helped participants understand what was expected of them and by when. Within the modules, the design team incorporated and modeled formative assessment strategies, such as the modeling of clear learning targets and success criteria and providing options for self- and peer-monitoring of one’s own growth.
In total, the design team co-developed five modules on ODE’s instance of Canvas that utilized discussion boards and built-in reflection tools. The work of this PLC was intended to be done within existing school PLC structures, such as a regular late start or early release. Each module was originally designed to span two weeks, but teams had the flexibility to adapt the modules to their own timelines. Modules contained pre-meeting activities, such as readings or reflections, in which each participant could engage before meeting in person. During in person meetings, team participants would discuss and challenge existing ways of thinking, engage in shared learning experiences, and create artifacts of their work. One such artifact from each team was a post to the Canvas discussion board for each module, summarizing key learnings and next steps.
The design team facilitated a statewide all-PLC gathering at the end of each module, roughly every two weeks. These hour-long optional meetings created space for participants to engage with others across the state who were doing similar work. Two of these gatherings featured Oregon educators or teams sharing artifacts of their learning journey. The collaboration and dialog among participants was filled with inquiry, encouragement, and support. The design team received feedback from numerous participants that these synchronous sessions helped keep them engaged and motivated to continue in the work.