Published Works


Measuring Human Return: Understanding and Assessing What Really Matters for Deep Learning

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Human return is the human capacity to contribute to people’s lives and to the world. It’s incredibly important in the lives of every one of us, because when we contribute—when we add to the world—that gives us meaning, fulfillment, and well-being.

The book really hits the mark. The best thing about it is the in-depth discussion of systems. It is with great pleasure that I read and re-read this book. It delivers a good combination of big vision with specific strategies and techniques.

This is just what we need in our district. This engaging book will help change teams support their system to learn how to effectively measure deeper learning. Readers will be drawn in by great examples from around the globe of educators putting students first. It is an energizing read. This book calls us to take action for all of our students today and for our future.

The vast experience and knowledge of the authors in major international educational reform efforts is a major strength of this book. As is the focus on Deep Learning as both a framework for organizational change and for the education of humanity. One of the unique themes this book offers is its emphasis on making education “human” and focusing on “return” in order to improve society.

Self-understanding and self-regulation are foundational skills to support autonomous learners and are fundamental for working in socially embedded environments in the real world or online. This comprehensive book provides insights, tools, and strategies for deeper, healthier, learning systems.

Measuring Human Return is a great summary of the work that is being done in our region with schools that have embraced Deeper Learning. When school systems have the support to embrace systemic change and teachers have the support to design deeper learning experiences for their students, everyone succeeds. Our classrooms need this support so that our students gain the necessary global competencies that will prepare them for the world today and tomorrow. This is the work we all need to embrace in our schools.

This book is a guide for all teachers, principals, and stakeholders in education who are aware that learning should be deep and contribute to humanity. It nails down what learning should be about with structured examples, exercises, and tools that, when applied, will lead to deeper learning for everyone.

Making the Important Measurable,
Not the Measurable Important

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This book seeks to answer some poignant questions, and take an in-depth look into the education system, how it’s failing some of our children, and what we can do as educators, parents and community leaders to change that. With The Learner First™, these things are achievable, practical, and valid. The Learner First™ works at multiple levels of the system to effect deep and lasting change – and to leave behind the capabilities needed to build on that change. Authentic Mixed Method Assessment is the tool for translating this worthy ‘what if’ thinking into an evidence-based, defensible reality.

With the international frenzy these days about assessment; with politicians jumping to numbers; the education world sorely needs a sensible, basic, powerful, accessible guide to authentic assessment.

There is no greater imperative in the field of education assessment than finding an escape from the dominance of high stakes, paper-and-pencil, multiple-choice tests. Davidson and McEachen have painted out the path to freedom.

This book delivers…and does so with insight, clarity, deep knowledge of the issues involved, methodological sophistication, cutting edge analysis, and actionable solutions.

The Depthvale Detectives and the Great Education Crisis: A Guide to Contributive Learning in Schools

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“This book marks a true meta-moment for schools­­, a chance to consider what your best school would look like, and to choose the behaviors that bring it to life.”

From the foreword.

Marc Brackett, Ph.D.
Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
Professor, Yale Child Study Center
Author of Permission to Feel

With great diversity of characters and a student-led focus, this book teaches young people that they do not need to wait for someone else to start something, that they have the ability and power to make change in their communities in many different ways if they just start somewhere.

The Depthvale Detectives and the Great Education Crisis is a fantastic resource for schools. . . . The purpose of school and education ought to be to make people’s lives and the world better. Contributive learning is a brilliant way of thinking about how to realize that purpose, how to add to the world.

Innovative and timely. The Depthvale Detectives takes a substantively different approach to ‘How to Improve Schools,’ both in terms of content and format. . . . The end result is students and staff who can contribute to making this world a better place.

As a teacher, it is so essential not to get so lost in our work (curriculum, standards, and assessments) that the purpose is lost. It is time to take a look at the big picture. . . . This book gives contributive learning the imagination required to engage readers and at the same time present the material we need. Fantastic!

The crisis is here. And really, it has always been here. . . . The question now is: What can be done? When will we stop to take the deliberate, creative action needed to combat the crisis? My hope is now. If we do, then we will have moved this tale from story to reality—and, in doing so, made a better world.

I have really enjoyed reading and learning from this book. . . . What if we saw our learners as capable, curious, and full of potential, and that perhaps our current system does not reveal all that potential? What if we led an inquiry into creating opportunities for our learners and educators to make a difference in their world? To see contributive learning as an ESSENTIAL outcome of educational systems would be a bold and exciting move in the right direction.

This book is what we need today! . . . The concept of contributive learning is very powerful and speaks to the need to see beyond the immediacy of our typical metrics. We all need to be in learning for the long run. As I read the book, I envisioned a community-read approach with discussion among and across different groups—students, teachers, families, youth organizations. . . . This book is a resource to drive change.

Contributive learning is the only counter to an environment of crisis—a powerful and succinct message conveyed through an illustrative and engaging story that cuts across complexity and makes the idea come alive.

When learning is student centered, equitable, and purposeful, everyone benefits. . . . If you are a teacher or administrator and are not sure how to begin to create meaningful change, this book is a great place to start.

The story of the Depthvale Detectives is gripping. . . . The book transcends all boundaries and becomes relevant to everyone who interacts with the education system.

The Depthvale Detectives uses the power of storytelling to connect readers to the change that is essential in education. Every educator will be able to read this, see themselves and their school, and begin to think about how they can truly contribute to their own school community.


Deep Learning
Engage the World Change the World

Available at or at all major book retailers

Dive into Deep Learning
Tools for Engagement

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to other publications by TLF

Papers + Articles

by TLF 

The Good and the Bad: Equity, Assessment, and the Great Education Crisis

The Learner First’s Joanne McEachen, Mary Coverdale, and Matthew Kane explore the ways that assessment, and a more meaningful understanding of academic success, can help create an equitable experience in schools.

Contributive Learning: Education for Positive Impact

The Learner First’s Joanne McEachen and Matthew Kane share the importance of Contributive Learning to unite education with positive application, so its uses improve people’s lives and the world. 

Professional Learning in Mathematics

Julie Roberts and Jonathan Fisher caught up Rob Proffitt White, The Learner First Executive Director of Maths, to find out about the recent professional learning workshops he ran with teachers and school leaders around New Zealand. They asked Rob about the underlying approach to the short-term Just-in-Time Maths initiative and his thoughts about future professional learning in mathematics. 


Check out our YouTube Channel for all of our videos!

TLF Video Series

Episode 1:  Rob Proffitt-White shares about his own self-understanding that brought him to his current role as Executive Director of Mathematics at The Learner First.

What does it mean to contribute?

Contributive Learning develops self-understanding, connection, knowledge, and competency.

When these come together, we add to the world. And that leads to meaning, fulfillment, and well-being.

Reach out today to learn more or get started!

Develop self-understanding.
Cultivate knowledge.
Foster competency.
Make connections.

Don’t bring down—lift people up.
Don’t subtract—add to the world.

Learn to contribute, in your way, every day.