The New England Network for Personalization and Performance (i3 New England Network) was created by the Center for Secondary School Redesign, Inc., (CSSR) and the Plymouth, Massachusetts School District. The five-year i3 New England Network project was funded by a $5 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education's Investing In Innovation Fund.

In addition to Plymouth and CSSR, project partners included the New York Performance Standards Consortium and the UCLA Center X.  As the work progressed we added the Sizer Teacher Center at the Parker Charter Essential School as an additional partner. The project also benefited from generous matching funds from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the Rural Schools and Community Trust.  The member districts participating in the NENPP were representative of four New England states—Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. (See Our Team for descriptions of each of the 13 schools in the i3 New England Network.)

The goal of the grant was to re-envision the American high school as a place where learning can happen anytime, anyplace; a place where students demonstrate learning through complex, rigorous performance assessments. Our redesigned high school is a place where teachers function more as facilitators and coaches of learning than as lecturers and dispensers of knowledge. Our hypothesis for the project was as follows: Students who participate in inquiry-based learning experiences tied to performance assessments will experience success in school and be better prepared for college and/or career experiences.

We went into the project believing—and now believe even more strongly—that a network of schools could support each other in the development of personalized learning environments that include performance assessments as a vehicle of demonstrating mastery of course competencies.  In this model, learning and assessment are inquiry based and personalized for each student, including measures of evidence of achievement that are both reliable and valid.

Our inspiration for this model initially came from a group of New York Schools, officially known as the New York Performance Standards Consortium (Consortium). Consortium schools provide personalized learning environments, in which collaborative professional communities engage in inquiry-based teaching and learning. The Consortium includes 33 high schools in New York State, 30 of which are located in New York City and has documented strong evidence of success for all students.

Over the five years of the grant, the i3 New England Network flourished as its own laboratory of original research and practice.  We are delighted to share with a wider audience what we have learned, what we have created, and how we did it, so that others can draw on our experience to advance their own high school redesign efforts.