Sanborn Regional High School (2019)

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

Sanborn Regional High School is in the seventh year of a major redesign initiative aimed at developing a personalized, truly competency-based learning model for our 672 students. SRHS, along with the other schools in the Sanborn district, has become a model for others seeking to make the difficult move to become competency-based both in New Hampshire and nationwide. Members of the teaching and administrative teams have presented the Sanborn way to groups of professionals at various stages of exploration or implementation at dozens of professional workshops over the last several years. Sanborn Regional HS and the district as a whole have become model schools for the unique learning environment in place in Kingston, Fremont, and Newton, N.H.

With a strong PLC (Professional Learning Communities) model that spans both grade level and content areas, teacher leaders share information with their respective teams. Each respective PLC (both grade level and content) team work together for common planning and sharing of ideas to maintain consistency across all subjects and grades. This is further supported by shared competencies for each subject, class and grade. The unification of competencies supports clearly identified goals for all students during each stage of instruction. At the start of instruction or at the beginning of a new unit, teachers provide students with a list of competencies that will be addressed. Additionally, each summative given identifies the competencies and performance indicators that will be measured by a rubric. The transparency of communication to all staff and students with regard to being aware of the vision, mission, and goals experienced is observed in each classroom and throughout the school building. The level of communication shared by staff and students at Sanborn Regional High School is part of the school’s culture and climate. 

Sanborn educators adhere closely to the four essential questions of a PLC, which are realized through the school’s innovative and robust competency-based education model.

  1. What is it we expect students to learn? Understanding competencies better allows Sanborn teachers to delve more into the important critical thinking aspects for students in a given course or unit of study.  Working as PLCs, teams identify the enduring understandings and “power standards” and then build backwards from there. Teams work through this together develop not only a greater understanding of their grade level competencies and standards but a greater focus on what is imperative for all students to learn in their grade level or course. Students clearly benefit from this scaffolding of learning.

  1. How will we know when students have learned it? At Sanborn, PLC Team-created common performance assessments are the driving force behind gathering data specific to each student’s progression of learning.  This information is then collaboratively analyzed to inform the next instructional steps and learning pathways for each student. Understanding whether a child has “learned it” is a fluid process for Sanborn teachers.  In the school’s competency model, this truly means that it is ingrained in a child’s knowledge-base.  It doesn’t mean that they can recite facts that have been memorized, only to lose these facts two weeks later when asked to recite them again. Learning means that it can be transferred repeatedly and in different tasks, truly reflecting a deeper level of understanding.

  1. How will we respond when some students don't learn it? A structured time to provide support for students who have not demonstrated competency is imperative to the “Learning for All” competency-based model at Sanborn. The school has a multi-tiered system of support for all learners.  Not learning foundational knowledge is not an option. Sanborn teachers commit to providing the time and resources within the daily schedule in a time called “Focus Learning Time” to ensure ALL students learn and have the supports they need to be successful in their learning.

  1. How will we extend and enrich the learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency? Sanborn’s competency-based educational system lends itself very well to those students needing challenge, extension, and enrichment Students are provided opportunities to demonstrate a deeper depth of knowledge (Level 4 DOK) within their regular assignments, and are provided with opportunities to extend through personalized experiences throughout the school’s programming, including a variety of opportunities for students to extend their learning outside of the school day through what the school calls “Extended Learning Opportunities”, or ELOs.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Sanborn, the curriculum is aligned to State and National Standards through a comprehensive competency-based learning model. Since moving into a brand new school facility in the fall of 2006, Sanborn Regional H.S. has undergone the transformation from a traditional high school to one that is a national model for school redesign, with a focus on systems to monitor stduent learning on a timely basis.

Rather than each student’s education revolving around the accumulation of credits, competencies are used. In a competency-based model, students are continually assessed on a series of course-specific standards related to the skills learned through each course. Rather than judge progress based on time spent in a class or traditional assessments, the focus is more on the mastery of skills. The most important question is, “What do we expect students to know and be able to do?” Success is judged based on course and assignment-specific, as well as broad skill-based rubrics, and students not meeting the course standards are given the opportunity to be re-assessed until they do.

Professional staff is focused on the academic and social/emotional success of every student, every day. This is achieved through many avenues and opportunities that allow students to learn, achieve, and celebrate their success in ways that help us achieve our school goal that all students leave Sanborn ready to pursue their personal goal of success as they begin to lead productive lives and contribute to a global society.

Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, Sanborn went 1:1, with students in all grades receiving
school-issued Chromebooks. Students and teachers alike now have access to the most up-to-date information and applications via the Internet, as well as curriculum materials available through the Google Classroom and Google Apps platforms. A blended-learning model has begun to infiltrate teaching and learning in all subjects. While this is underway, the district has focused professional development to explore and integrate new and ever improving ways to utilize these revolutionary tools to improve student learning.

From their first days of high school, students at Sanborn are in a highly supportive
environment. The Freshmen Learning Community (FLC) is more than just a collection of common courses taken by our ninth graders. The ten core teachers of the FLC meet several times a week as a highly functioning team to plan lessons, discuss student needs, reflect on past successes and failures, and look for any possible avenue to improve student learning. The school’s master schedule has been specifically tailored to allow long blocks of time that the FLC uses to plan and execute integrated units of study not bound by the constraints of the bell schedule. In the FLC, classes are heterogeneously grouped and students have the ability to contract for honors in English, Global Studies, and Science.

In a similar fashion, the 10th grade teachers are clustered into what is called the Sophomore
Experience. The Sophomore team meets several times a week, and plans a minimum of two
integrated units each year, blending the core subjects of social studies, science and English. When possible, other subjects and topics, such as family and consumer science are integrated into these lessons. The 10th graders also have flexible time, and are clustered into three pods which are adjusted as the year goes on to create specific groups of students for variety, to match ability, to foster student-led learning in heterogeneous groups, and for other reasons. As part of their year, Sophomores also participate in “Student Interest Projects, or SIPs”, a time for them to pursue a long-form project of particular interest to them. This may be the creation of a video, organizing a fundraiser, building a chicken coop, or just about anything that allows them to chase a personal passion.

At graduation each year, the Principal asks students earning college credit during their high school years to stand. At least year’s ceremony, dozens of students were recognized. Sanborn has agreements with Northern Essex Community College, Southern New Hampshire University, and three colleges that are part of the NH Community College System. NECC and SNHU courses are taught by college professors in classrooms on the Sanborn campus during the first 80 minutes of the school day, with students receiving both college and high school credit. This year, almost 100 students are enrolled in dual-credit courses at Sanborn, and another 43 are taking running start courses for college credit at the Seacoast School of Technology free of charge.

Dozens of Sanborn students also take advantage of a culture that fosters their ability to create and receive credit for extended learning opportunities. This year, 70 students are involved in ELO’s that include culture exploration, fashion design, accounting, and dental hygiene to name a few. Students completing an ELO must create learning goals, research their topic, keep a journal to reflect on their learning, create a project, and present their experience to the faculty. Several students have obtained state certifications as dental assistants, bookkeepers and as automotive repair technicians through our ELO program. Additionally, over thirty of our juniors and seniors are also taking advantage of opportunities to complete on-the job internships in areas of possible future interest. These include students working in aviation, fire service, education, and many other areas. Sanborn has a teacher who dedicates nearly 100% of her time to supporting and supervising these two initiatives.

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

Sanborn Regional High School is a redesigned school, prepared to meet the educational needs of high school learners in the 21st century. In order to provide a system of intervention and extension to provide students with additional time and support for learning, Sanborn has deeply embedded the work of Professional Learning Communities which allow educators to collaborate with peers to implement the best possible learning for our students. A natural outgrowth of the PLC’s are Small Learning Communities that benefit students in all grades, and a flexible intervention and extension period that is managed by these small learning community PLC teams.

The Small Learning Community for Freshmen: The Freshman Learning Community (FLC) is a comprehensive transition program for ninth grade students entering Sanborn Regional High School. Students are assigned to one of two heterogeneously grouped and academically balanced FLC teams serving approximately 85 students each. While each team is assigned a teacher in the four core subjects of English, social studies, science, and math, the team structure, through PLC meetings held at least twice each week, provides the necessary support to ensure that all students achieve at high levels, regardless of what team they are on. Team teachers are empowered to creatively plan their instruction in all subjects as well as through advisory to meet the academic needs of students.

The Small Learning Community for Sophomores: Sophomores are grouped into pods of integrated teams blending English, Social Studies, and Science through several interdisciplinary units each year. Within this small learning community, teachers have complete autonomy over the daily teaching schedule and instructional groupings of students. This freedom provides opportunities for teachers and students to be grouped flexibly, according to daily learning and teaching needs. As a result, daily learning and teaching needs may take many forms, including, but not limited to, periods for sustained silent reading (SSR), advisory, honors instruction, enrichment opportunities, academic intervention, and community-building activities. The Small

Learning Community for Juniors and Seniors: As students begin to develop post-secondary plans, it is important that they follow an appropriate high school course sequence that supports hopes and aspirations and makes students truly college and career-ready. As part of the preparation for their postsecondary plans, Sanborn Regional High School has developed an extensive career pathways exploration program for all students that includes a popular year-long career speaker series, job shadows, internships, and student driven extended-learning opportunities. The school partners with hundreds of community members and organizations each year to make these learning experiences possible.

Every day, traditional learning in these small learning communities pauses to allow students in all grades the opportunity to extend their learning, meet with teachers for extra help, catch up on homework, pursue an interest, improve their personal fitness, meet with other members of co-curricular clubs and organizations…the list is endless. Focused Learning Time (FLT) occurs four times in each six day schedule cycle, with advisory meeting the other two days. During advisory, students use specifically-designed software to select opportunities presented by every teacher at Sanborn. Teachers of students who missed an assessment, or who have kids in need of remediation can sign those students up for their FLT. Students may choose to spend the 45 minutes in open gym or the cardio/weight room, working in the coffee stand as part of an ELO, or even repairing cars in the auto shop, and students seeking honors credit meet with their teachers for additional learning opportunities during this time.

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

At Sanborn, staff and the students alike are committed to sustaining a positive environment which promotes respect, academic excellence, and pride by encouraging independent thinking within a culture of collaboration. Prominently displayed in the school’s impressive atrium as students enter the front doors each day, the school’s five core values permeate every aspect of the school’s philosophy, programming, policy, and practice. These words, spelling out P-R-I-D-E, guide and fuel every aspect of the learning that takes place at Sanborn daily:

  • Personalization: Developing self-identity while respecting differences in others

  • Risk-Taking: Challenging individuals academically to develop their character

  • Integrity: Demonstrating high standards and moral courage both in and out of the classroom

  • Discovery: Inspiring creativity and imagination through exploration and self-expression

  • Empowerment: Pursuing excellence with confidence

Metaphorically underpinning these traits are the “Three C’s”. These pillars guide the work being done every day to help us unify and remain laser-focused on the skills required to promote excellence and effectively support the competency-based learning model:  Sanborn learning communities use Collaboration to advance student learning and academic performance, for which all are collectively responsible and mutually accountable. Sanborn students are engaged in learning tasks and performance assessments that accurately measure learning and mastery of Competency.  The Sanborn community fosters a positive school Culture and Climate for all stakeholders that promotes respect, responsibility, ambition, and pride. These three pillars guide our work today, unifying us in our laser-focused drive to promote learning for all, whatever it takes.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

In the last five years, guided by federal and state requirements, New Hampshire high schools have gone through dramatic changes in the way they have collected standardized data on student achievement. Prior to 2015, the NECAP test was taken by all high school juniors, and in 2015, juniors completed the Smarter-Balanced (SBAC) assessment. Starting with March of 2016, and continuing last year, 11th graders statewide were required to take the newly redesigned College Board SAT test as their standard assessment. These significant, almost yearly changes have made it difficult for all high schools to track student achievement. 

In response to this set of changes, and in an effort to better identify growth with the school’s innovative competency-based model, the school board set the following benchmarks for student success: In order to be deemed college and career ready, graduates will demonstrate success in at least two or more of the following indicators:

  • Completion of a New Hampshire Scholars program of study

  • A grade of Basic Proficient (BP) or better in a dual enrollment (high school/college) course;

  • Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores meeting or exceeding the college and career ready benchmark (currently 480 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 530 in Math);

  • American College Testing (ACT) scores meeting or exceeding the college and career ready benchmark (currently 18 in English, 22 in Mathematics, 22 in Reading, and 23 in Science);

  • A score of 3, 4, or 5 on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam;

  • Earning a Career and Technical Education (CTE) industry- recognized credential;

  • Completion of a New Hampshire career pathway program of study which includes academic coursework, post-secondary career planning, and a work-based internship Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO);

  • Scoring at least Level III on components of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) that comprise the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT);

  • Acceptance into an accredited post-secondary institution (4-Year college, 2-Year college, or career/technical school) or acceptance into an apprenticeship reviewed and validated by the Superintendent of Schools.

Measures include a variety of standardized testing measures as well as other indicators. The school has been tracking data for three consecutive years on these categories and makes use of the PLC model to identify opportunities for growth for each student based on these indicators.

The school has recognized a weakness with SAT scores and is working on a plan to promote growth in this area. Students now take the PSAT in grades 9 and 10 and teachers use this data to help students develop test prep plans in an effort to increase SAT scores in grade 11.

  • 2012: First Place Magna Award from the National School Board Association (for the innovative FLC model)

  • 2016: Nellie Mae Education Foundation Larry O’Toole Award recipient (came with a $100,000 cash prize to the school)

  • 2018: NH School of Excellence Award (given to 1 NH high school annually)

  • Regular recognition in publications as a national leader in the competency-based education model.