ELO Program Handbook


Five key components of an ELO

ELOs have five key components

  • Research – plan for what you expect to learn, adjust your research along the way
  • Reflection – communicate your growth and seek help from those you know connect to your learning.
  • Product – Plan for what you expect to do, gather and use authentic feedback, make your learning productive
  • Presentation – Communicate your experience, share your knowledge and skills, connect your learning to life.
  • Professionalism

ELO Design Template

Learning teams will use the ELO Design Template to begin developing a comprehensive plan for all elements of the ELO.

The design process may vary. For example, an ELO may be initiated by a student and teacher, and then other learning team members are added, or a teacher and community partner may initiate an ELO to propose to a group of students. All members of the ELO team must sign the ELO Permission Form and Student Contract before the ELO can begin. 

All EFHS ELOs have four design elements.

1. Essential question

This is the driving question behind the ELO. A good essential question will:

  • motivate and shift students toward ownership of learning
  • be thoughtful, provoking, and philosophical, and not have a simple (or “google-able”) answer
  • provide a baseline for the student to refine his or her own answer throughout the ELO experience.

2. Proficiencies

Proficiencies are clear criteria that guide students’ learning and are necessary to move toward graduation. Student progress through proficiencies is mapped in Personalized Learning Plans stored in LiFT.

ELOs may cross multiple content areas since Proficiencies lend themselves to interdisciplinary thinking. See samples of interdisciplinary ELOs on beyondclassroom.org.

3. Community Mentors

Community mentors take the learning outside of school. Through them, students engage in meaningful learning that contributes back to the larger community.

Strategies for successful community partnerships include:

  • Clear outlines of how feedback and coaching will happen during the course of the ELO
  • Use the Community Partner template as a guideline for developing and nurturing partnerships
  • A policy on background checks
  • An insurance policy

4. Projects

Projects are the natural end result of the student’s learning journey and provide a vehicle for processing, exploring and creating evidence toward the proficiencies through the essential question.

ELO students should be working on projects that:

  • result in an original product or idea
  • contribute back to a larger community
  • support disciplined inquiry (i.e., the student acts as a mathematician, historian, artist, or other role in order to do the work).

Explore Buck Institute for Education (BIE) for project ideas. The Buck Institute supports teachers to use Project Based Learning, which they define as a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge.

ELO Learning Team

Clear student learning goals are determined by a learning team composed of:

  • the student
  • a Cooperating Teacher
  • a Community Mentor
  • additional student staff as needed
  • an ELO Coordinator.

Learning team roles

ELO Coordinator

  • Clarify the role of each person on the team
  • Provide coaching to individuals involved in the team
  • Ensure that appropriate and rigorous assessment rubrics are used in all ELO performance assessments
  • Ensure the student is involved in the development of the assessment process

Cooperating Teacher or certified school personnel

  • Identify proficiencies (what the student needs to learn) with the student and ELO Coordinator.
  • With the student and with input from the Community Mentor, define how and when the student will be assessed on those competencies
  • Assess student’s mastery of pre-determined proficiencies, including input from community mentors and students
  • Oversee the ongoing and final assessment of student progress using appropriate rubrics in LiFT, and provide frequent feedback to the student regarding progress

Community Mentor  

The specific role of the community member in the ELO is determined at the outset with the student, teacher, and ELO coordinator. At minimum, the Community Mentor will:

  • Support and coach students in their ELO experience
  • Provide the learning experiences/environment that allow the student to gain mastery in the pre-determined proficiencies
  • Provide the student with timely, detailed feedback to develop skills, knowledge, problem-solving ability, creativity, and complex thinking


  • Work with ELO coordinator, Community Mentor, and Cooperating Teacher(s) to become familiar with the proficiencies, the assessment process, and the rubrics used for assessment
  • Work with Cooperating Teacher and ELO Coordinator to determine assessment of mastery
  • Complete regular reflections, assessing progress on ELO, identifying next steps in learning, and periodically discussing reflections with mentor and/or teacher
  • Communicate regularly with the ELO coordinator, Community Mentor, and Cooperating Teacher
  • Meet timeline commitments for assignments, self-assessment/reflections, and final assessment of learning
  • Attached completed work in LiFT to associate it with specific tasks and align it as evidence for proficiency


Student success is linked to parent/guardian involvement and encouragement throughout the ELO process. Parents:

  • Become familiar with the ELO process, including assessment
  • Provide support and coaching to the student throughout the ELO
  • Attend the final presentation of learning
*based on documents from beyondclassroom.org, revised for relevancy to Enosburg Falls High School.