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Passage Presentations in Secondary Schools

Passage presentations are an opportunity for students to reflect on their learning and their readiness to move on to the next phase of their education. This video highlights passage presentations at a number of EL Education schools around the country: Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, MA, Mapleton Expeditionary School for the Arts (MESA) in Mapleton, CO, Tapestry Charter School in Buffalo, NY, and Casco Bay High School in Portland, ME.

This video accompanies the book Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student-Engaged Assessment.


- Hello everyone. I would like to thank you all for coming to my Passage. This whole entire presentation is to prove to everyone that is here that I am ready for 11th grade, and I ...

- [Narrator] In many schools with student engaged assessment practices, students reflect upon and communicate the scope of their learning and growth at the end of pivotal transition grades through Passage Presentations. Students present before members of their community. Teachers prepare students for success by providing organizers in Rubrics and dedicating school time for preparing. Students share portfolios of work as evidence. And the presentations reflect both academic and personal growth.

- Society does kind of like, you could say, trash on Puerto Ricans. My motive is proving the world wrong. I can be Puerto Rican, I can be a young woman and still go off to college, be a business manager, or anything like that. And do what I wanna do, ‘cause I worked for it.

- [Narrator] Though Passage Presentations share these universal qualities, Passages take on unique characteristics in every school. At Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts, known as MESA, Passage Presentations are held at the end of grades 8, 10, and 12. Students must pass Passages to move on. The Passage Presentation panel includes at least one teacher, and one community member. Students speak to character, academic challenges, and growth. And as an art school, student work is emphasized in the Passage Presentations.

- My name is Simone Referzo, and I just got done doing my 12th grade Passage portfolio, and I almost passed. I actually have really high expectations for myself in art ... I know myself pretty well as a learner, and the fact that I know that I actually need to see things in order to be able to grasp the concept of what we’re learning. I’ve learned this through myself as well as through MESA, considering it’s an expeditionary school of learning through the arts. For my exemplary reflection, I chose my pop art intensive based off of Andy Warhol’s wall prints that he did of Marilyn ... Passages are a good idea for kids to do, because I feel like when you can actually present your work like that, then you’re really ready to go out into the world to be able to present yourself. And this is my senior expedition for horror make-up. And this is my friend Santana who let me dress her up as a zombie. I knew I wasn’t gonna pass right away because of the edits I needed to make to my senior expedition.

- Simone you’re almost there it looks like, but you’re not quite. Right? So let’s look at what you need ... And I feel like since I didn’t pass the first time, I can really just push myself that much harder to get them done.

- I’m gonna schedule you Tuesday, May 8th at 3:30 p.m.

- Okay.

- [Narrator] At Tapestry Charter High School in Buffalo, New York, Passage Presentations are held at the end of grades 10 and 12. Students must pass Passages. Students discuss their academic strengths and challenges, a significant learning expedition, and their academic goals. Community members play significant roles on the Passage Presentation panels.

- Hi my name is Dennis King. And my academic strength is geometry. Math period ...

- I’m Tom Ramey. I’m a faculty member at the University of Buffalo. This is the second year that I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a panelist for students going through the Passages portfolio process. Just in terms of honors, what’s the content, or more importantly what are the expectations? What are you expecting?

- Honors is like a higher class. It’s a more challenging class. We were doing projects about genetically engineered fish ...

- So when the actual presentation takes place, the role of the crew leader is to make sure that the panel is informed, that they have the materials that they need, including Rubric. Understanding as to what the students are about to do. The portfolio process, I think, gives the panelist an opportunity to provide positive feedback and encouragement.

- I’m really happy to see your growth, and your maturing. I think you have great leadership potential, and I wanna see more of that.

- I would just encourage you to take the opportunities that are available here, to become as well-rounded as you possibly can ...

- While I offered, I think, maybe some constructive criticism, I also tried to really congratulate him on how far he’s come as a student over the last two years. And in addition, gave him some suggestions about things that he might wanna think about moving forward. ... where you actually don’t prioritize things in your head, but on Sunday you look at the week coming up ...

- It’s really about understanding that there is supports there for you. The support structure from your crew leaders, from your classmates, from your teachers, and especially from the community members that have a chance to be on these panels.

- [Narrator] At Casco Bay high School in Portland, Maine, senior Passage Presentations are called Final Word. Unlike 10th grade Passage Presentations at Casco Bay, Final Word presentations are not evaluated. Students craft narratives of significant personal growth. And present their Final Word to parents, teachers, and their entire graduating class.

- For us, Final Word is about giving seniors a chance, on the verge of this big life transition, to say who they are and what they’re about and reflect on where they’ve been, and where they wanna go. And to give a chance for the community also, to express their adoration for each kid on the verge of this great life moment.

- I grew up in a Rwanda til I was 14. Then came here to America, and started my junior year here at Casco Bay High School. A lot of things have changed since my freshmen year. I’ve overcame so many difficulties and challenging events during the past four years. The main thing I wanted people to get out of my Final Word was even though I was still new in the country, that didn’t mean that my goal or my vision, or my dream was ended. I will never forget where I come from, because my past shows who I am today. My goal is to be a pharmacist, and my dream is to be helpful to those who are suffering and share my success especially with those who have never had the same opportunity that I’ve had. Not until I started writing my Final Word that I realized that I actually went through a lot. That gave me a chance to actually think, and know where I’m at and where I’m going, and where I came from. So what I’ve gained from this experience is confidence. I’m ready. I’m ready because I know my people are ready to rise when I rise.

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EL Education

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