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Collaborating with experts to support schools and deliver professional development, ensuring the success of all students.

VT-HEC Supports Vermont’s Only Award Winning Schools

Cabot, Twinfield and Harwood only Vermont schools awarded the Personalized Learning Initiative

“Twenty New England public schools in the League of Innovative Schools were selected  to participate in a new initiative that will help them develop personalized learning experiences that address the distinct learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students. The initiative’s goal is to help the schools remodel their academic programs to ensure that every graduate is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, modern workplaces, and adult life.”  This was a very sought after award that looked at schools’ plans and progress in implementing a proficiency-based and personalized learning model. The League of Innovative Schools  is a regional professional learning community for schools consisting of 86 schools from across New England including 22 in Vermont. Cabot, Twinfield and Harwood were the only Vermont schools to be awarded acceptance into the Personalized Learning Initiative and all three have been working with TASS (Teaching All Secondary Schools). 

TASS is the  VT-HEC program that provides support to middle and high schools in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students by utilizing education neuroscience in a proficiency-based context.  TASS has been working for ten years to provide middle and high schools with an array of coherent learning and coaching supports that are tailored to the needs and goals of each school. All three of these schools, for instance, attended TASS offerings that introduced the principles of brain-based learning that would form the foundation for much of their work moving forward.

Following that introduction the schools took advantage of a variety of TASS offerings and supports:

  • TASS staff provided embedded professional learning opportunities and coaching throughout the year to teachers to implement a proficiency-based learning model in their classrooms
  • TASS leadership staff supported various school leadership teams and administrators in their efforts to address systems issues and ensure school –wide progress in spite of the many competing demands they faced.
  • Staff from these schools participated in the annual TASS series of WORKshops and graduate courses that focus on practical aspects of identifying learning targets, developing performance tasks, using standardized-based grading and reporting, and utilizing management tools to hold it all together.
  • Twinfield and Harwood have staff participating in the TASS Teacher Leader Certificate program in which staff are being prepared to take a leadership role in supporting their colleagues in expanding and sustaining the progress they have made.
  • The leadership team of Washington NE (Twinfield & Cabot) participated in both the 2014 & 2015  VPA leadership strand offered by the VT-HEC/TASS on how to utilize brain-based learning with their staff and students, and took advantage of the option to extend that learning by planning together with TASS staff for the start of the new year.  Those administrators have reported that the result of these planning efforts got them off to” their best start ever”.
  • Staff from all three schools worked together at a  TASS 2015 Summer Institute to further the work of their individual schools and prepare for the coming year. 

These are three very different schools in size and organization but each has made impressive gains and each has utilized TASS resources, in addition to others, to make significant progress and maintain coherence, while charting their own course. The VT-HEC is very pleased to be a part of this effort and congratulates the staff and leadership of these schools for their impressive achievement.

In the coming year TASS will again be offering the sequence of WORKshops, Using Neuroscience to Make Standards Work for ALL Students, which will be open to all and may be taken as a series, a three credit course or as individual WORKshops.

See more about these WORKshops here:


Applying Neuroscience to Standards-Based Learning & Professional Learning Opportunities

TASS Consultants Practice What They Preach in a Series of WORKshops

This past year TASS consultants, Bill Rich, Wendy Cohen & Val Gardner, offered a very successful series of WORKshops focused on applying principles of neuroscience to the practical implementation of standards-based learning. The topics covered included developing learning targets, using performance tasks, instituting standards-based grading and utilizing management tools to  keep it all together.

Individuals and teams who attended experienced learning opportunities that were designed around the very principles from education neuroscience that formed the content of the series. They assessed their level of learning using learning scales, set goals and measured their progress. Participants devoted considerable time  working with the concepts to further their understanding and practiced applying the principles  to their own work with the support of Bill, Val and Wendy and others in the room. They were able to share their work, get their questions answered, see the work of others and get feedback on their efforts.

Participants worked with the teams they came with or with other participants to experience collaborative application of the principles. They were given access to resources and models that they could use during the session and in the future.  Not only was the content aimed at the practical issues facing educators implementing the Common Core and other sets of standards but they were able to experience the concepts in action applied to their own learning and work.

Based on this year’s success TASS will be offering this series again in 2014-2015. WORKshops may be taken individually, as a series or as a graduate course.  More details will be coming soon on how to register for these exciting and different sessions that will help educators put their ideas to work and reach their goals for the year.

  • Crafting Student-Friendly Learning Targets – October 9, 2014; Capitol Plaza, Montpelier, VT
  • Designing Performance Tasks to Power Student Learning – November 21, 2014; Capitol Plaza, Montpelier, VT
  • Getting to (& Surviving) Standards-Based Learning March 6, 2015; Capitol Plaza, Montpelier, VT
  • Data Tools to Keep You in Sync with Your Students – May, 1, 2015; Capitol Plaza, Montpelier, VT


TASS (Teaching All Secondary Students) is the VT-HEC program that supports middle and high schools in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students utilizing the best from research on the brain and learning, education and systems change. TASS works to offer schools a comprehensive and coherent approach to implementing standards-based learning and improving outcomes for all students. TASS can deliver a tailored array of coaching and consultation to teachers and leaders as well as embedded professional learning opportunities designed specially for individual schools.  In addition, TASS offers a variety of learning opportunities that are open to all but built on the same foundation and research.  TASS has an impressive team of experts who can meet most any school or professional learning need – all based on the same values and principles of learning.

VT-HEC’s WORKshops are special learning opportunities designed to put into practice what we know from neuroscience about effective learning design to better ensure the content of the session is applied in the school setting.  Each session will present some key concepts on the topic that is the focus of the day along with examples and models of application of the concepts.  Participants assess their current status, set goals for their learning and mark their progress using tools consistent with the principles being covered.  At least half the day is devoted to the participants applying the principles to their own work situation along with their colleagues. Support will be available from the presenters and other participants who have had experience with the work.  Participants get feedback and support on taking their work farther and, if they are taking the WORKshop as part of a course, they will get continued support in putting their new knowledge and skills into practice in their own settings. 

Making Standards Work in the Real World

Exciting New Workshop Series and Course for Middle & High School Educators

Can a standards-based approach to education actually work in today’s schools? Using Neuroscience to Make Standards Work for ALL Students  is a new series of four workshops that address real-life issues encountered when implementing a standards-based learning approach, such as crafting student-friendly learning targets; designing performance tasks that get students excited about practice; making the transition to standards-based grading and using data management tools to make standards doable for teachers and students. The series is being designed and presented by: Bill Rich, Susie Girardin & Wendy Cohen.

The roll out of the Common Core, new science standards and new assessments have set significant challenges for education across the nation, but teachers in real-world Vermont classrooms need to figure out how the new standards and assessments will actually work with all their students, their curriculum and grading system and any school-wide standards that already exist in their schools.

To help teachers work through such practical questions, the Teaching All Secondary Students (TASS) program of the VT-HEC is developing an annual series of workshops and courses.  TASS has been working in VT middle and high schools for the past eight years to support their efforts to improve by applying the best research findings from neuroscience and education. It is this knowledge, experience and expertise that will go into the design of these new learning opportunities.

The workshops can be taken individually or together as a three credit course.  You won’t want to miss these days.  To find out more go to: