Partner Profile: Milpitas Unified School District

This past school year (2022-2023), Milpitas Unified School District, in partnership with Envision Learning Partners (ELP), brought together its two middle schools to develop common, skills-based rubrics to guide the development and implementation of deeper learning assessments.  Employing common rubrics fundamentally changes the student learning experience by elevating the level of assessment and instruction that must occur prior to the assessment. Through deeper learning assessments and common rubrics, we know we can close the opportunity gap as it will force instructional moves that evoke deeper learning to meet the needs of all students. 

The goal with these assessments is to increase student engagement through relevance and to provide multiple modalities to demonstrate mastery. Traditional assessments are often not culturally responsive and then our historically marginalized students are further marginalized when placed in remedial classes based on these biased metrics. When we do this, students miss out on developing new skills, connecting knowledge to existing schema, analyzing and synthesizing their relevance, and incorporating them into their identity. Instead, Milpitas Unified is focusing on creating windows, mirrors, and doors for students to critically think about the world around them through implementation of deeper learning assessments.

This past year, through guided, collaborative learning from Envision Learning Partners, each middle schools’ core departments (ELA, math, science and social studies) developed skill-based rubrics in partnership with Envision Learning Partners. Collaboration was a key win for the district as teachers were energized by their learning. They engaged in deep conversations around culturally relevant instruction and grading for equity as a result of their shared understanding of deeper learning assessments and rubrics. Most importantly, teachers saw the value in collaborating with each other as they saw the strengths and knowledge they each brought to the work and how their thinking and pedagogy was being pushed and expanded.   

The 2023-2024 school year will be implementation year 1 of deeper learning assessments and common rubrics. The partnership with ELP will continue to foster our teachers’ ability to align current assessments to High Quality Performance Assessment criteria, pilot the assessments, analyze student work and refine the rubrics through a calibration process.  Through calibration we hope to unpack critical questions like:

  • Did this task adequately provide students the opportunity to demonstrate authentic, deeper learning?  If not, what needs to change about the assessment design?
  • What does students’ work in the different rubric domain areas look like?

We saw the profound impact HQPAs have on our students. Our science teams piloted a deeper learning assessment using a common rubric and found that students who were not always successful on traditional assessments, were able to thrive using this new assessment design. This speaks to the power of this work and the access deeper learning assessments and common rubrics provide to all students. Next year, we hope to share more learnings from our pilot and calibration efforts in partnership with ELP.

Student Testimonials

Contact Us