Preparing Students for the Rapidly-Changing World: Implications for Instruction and Assessment (Forum 3)

Preparing Students for the Rapidly-Changing World: Implications for Instruction and Assessment (Forum 3)
Preparing Students for the Rapidly-Changing World: Implications for Instruction and Assessment (Forum 3)

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This is the third in a series of three AYPF Capitol Hill forums to address the need for a new approach to education that ensures that students graduate with the range of skills and abilities necessary for success in the knowledge economy.  The first two forums in the series focused on understanding the need for a radical shift in how we approach education, successful school models that have made this shift, as well as the implications for instruction, teacher preparation and professional development. This final forum in the series focused on assessment, and highlighted some of the tools that are being used to measure student acquisition of the competencies needed for future success.  The forum also showcased how two states have infused performance-based measures into their assessment systems to ensure student proficiency in these applied skills.  Panelists also addressed how such performance-based measures fit with the common core standards and efforts to create common assessments.

Forum Presenters:

Elena Silva, Senior Policy Analyst, Education Sector


Sharon Lee, Secondary Redesign Specialist, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Multiple Pathways

Susan Gendron, Policy Coordinator, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium




For more information on the first two forums in the series, click on the links below:


  • Forum 1:
  • Forum 2:

    Elena Silva is a senior policy analyst at Education Sector, where she oversees the organization’s teacher quality work and directs mixed-method research projects designed to evaluate a variety of education reform efforts at the national, state and local levels. Silva has researched and written on a wide range of educational issues while at Education Sector, including public school staffing and school design, scheduling, assessment, and the role of teachers’ unions in reform. Prior, Silva was the director of research for the American Association of University Women, a national membership organization and educational foundation, where she led national research initiatives and wrote related research reports on gender equity in science and technology, higher education, and the workplace, and managed the foundation’s research grants portfolio. Silva also previously managed youth leadership and education programs at the ASPIRA Association, one of the largest national Hispanic-serving organizations, where she developed and directed one of the first AmeriCorps service programs in the nation.

    Silva holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D in education from the University of California-Berkeley, where she taught undergraduate courses in urban education, the history of public education, high school reform and qualitative research. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Silva has served and serves as an advisor to numerous national and local organizations and agencies, including the California-based nonprofit Youth In Focus, the DC-based Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Senate Task Force on Hispanic Education.

    Sharon K. Lee is the Secondary Redesign Specialist in the office of Multiple Pathways at the RI Department of Education.  Secondary redesign work focused on facilitating the statewide implementation of the RI Secondary Regulations (RI Diploma System) by providing high quality technical assistance to RI high school and middle level educators and administrators.  As part of the secondary Diploma System work, Dr. Lee organizes and facilitates the evaluation of districts for the level of implementation through a combination of peer review and state evaluation processes.  Additional responsibilities include supporting development of agency policy to ensure that districts and schools provide all students access to rigorous and personalized learning environments.  She is a founding member of the New England Secondary School Consortium (NESSC) planning and work group, which supports regional efforts in secondary reform.




    Susan A. Gendron served as Commissioner of Education for the state of Maine from March 13, 2003 until May 1, 2010 when she stepped down to assume the role of Policy Coordinator for the SMARTER Balance Assessment Consortium.  In this role she assisted 31 states in preparing an innovative integrated proposal that is built upon an integrated balanced system for curriculum, assessment, instruction and educator development.  On June 1, 2010 she was named a Senior Fellow for the International Center for Leadership in Education.

    Gendron’s career in education spans 38 years, serving as kindergarten teacher, primary school principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent of schools in Windham, Maine, for many years. She has encouraged the expansion of public preschool programs in Maine and focused on working with school systems to move to a learner-centered system of standards-based education. She has worked with stakeholder groups to develop recommendations for a 21st century diploma. And as an early advocate of graduating all students ready for college, career and citizenship, she led Maine to become the first – and still only – state to use the SAT test as the state’s 11th grade assessment, part of her efforts to create a culture of higher aspirations and encourage post-secondary education for all students. She also has worked to implement the reorganization of Maine’s school systems into fewer units, the largest education restructuring in the state in 50 years.

    During her tenure, Maine joined with three other states to administer a common assessment for reading and mathematics. Commissioner Gendron expanded Maine’s laptop program, which has provided notebook computers to all Maine middle school students since 2002 – making Maine the first and only state with a statewide 1:1 computing program, making laptops a possibility for every student in grades 7-12. The high school expansion, announced in June 2009, marks the world’s largest educational technology program of its kind, once again putting Maine at the leading edge in using technology to support education.

    Sue was a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Board from 2006 -2010 and served as its President from 2009-2010.  She held several leadership positions with CCSSO, including board liaison for the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) and member of the Presidential Transition Task Force.  She also served as Chair of the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands (REL-NEI) Board, trustee of the University of Maine System, and serves on numerous other boards and commissions at the local, state, and national levels.

    She has received many honors, including the Maine School Superintendents’ Distinguished Educator Award, 2001; the Maine Superintendent of the Year Award, 2002; the Maine Education Association – Friend of Education Award, 2005; the University of Southern Maine Distinguished Alumni Award, 2006; the State Education Technology Directors Association – Pushing the Envelope Award, 2008; and the Jobs for America’s Graduates – National Education Leadership Award, 2009


Elena Silva
Senior Policy Analyst
Education Sector
1201 Connecticut Ave, NW
Suite 850
Washington, DC 20036

Sharon Lee
Secondary Redesign Specialist
Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Multiple Pathways
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903

Susan Gendron
Policy Coordinator
Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium


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The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.