Helping All Children Learn

Dover School District Letterhead


Philosophy of Education


Education is a human endeavor. For our school district to empower all learners, we require a community of adults who are committed to continuous learning, and who embrace their own leadership capacities. The leaders of a school district extend beyond the school board and the administration. Every school community member leads as they make decisions that affect student learning and achievement. As a collective body, we must all come together with a common focus on student success.

Today’s world is ever-changing, demanding a shift in how our students think and apply knowledge. The exponential rate of technological progress has significant implications for our students. We use innovative strategies which intentionally prepare our students for life experiences and careers that are continually evolving. Educators facilitate student learning rather than deliver facts and information. We create productive learning environments in which students can develop the academic, social, and emotional skills needed to succeed in life. The focus of learning is designed for students to be successful in the dynamic environments in which they will live and thrive.


Learning Philosophy

The Dover School District believes that education can be the most powerful mechanism of social change. We strive for all members of our community to be empowered learners who experience meaningful relationships and derive fulfillment and joy from learning. We celebrate the individual differences young people bring to an educational environment. All learners must embrace a mindset of continual growth and learning to effectively navigate a constantly evolving world of technology, economics, politics, and social justice. Producing meaningful high-quality work, developing a sense of self, and engaging with the larger community results in educational excellence.
We believe that...

High achievement is possible for all students.

Educators, families, and the community are critical partners in ensuring students reach their full potential.

Mutual discovery, creation, and application of knowledge is the focus of the learning process.

Expanding the learning environment to use time, space, people, and the greater community is a catalyst for deepening understanding and knowledge.

Learning designs are intentionally scaffolded and built on relevance and meaning, and explicitly connect to real world application.

Learners vary in the subjects and topics they find interesting, in the pace at which they learn, and the types of materials they find engaging.

Student-driven learning increases student engagement.

Deep learning occurs when knowledge is constructed and applied to novel situations.

The process of learning, discovering, and conveying information is as important as the result; questions hold the same value as answers.

Intentionally developing and fostering the New Hampshire Work Study Practices of communication, creativity, collaboration, and self-direction is essential in the classroom and beyond.

Embedded, transparent, authentic assessment, and feedback are essential for responsive instruction and student growth.

Students must define personal goals, monitor progress, and engage in feedback with peers and others through a timely cycle of reflection.

It is essential to develop the ability to responsibly navigate an evolving digital world.

To increase student learning and achievement there must be consistent analysis of data by educators to inform best instructional practices.

The success of each student is the collective responsibility of all educators.

In order to ensure student success, educators must engage in purposeful, relevant, and enriching professional development.
We engage in practices that...

Create an emotionally and physically safe learning community through the establishment of school and classroom norms and relationships.

Establish collegial relationships that foster trust, resulting in the creation of intentional mechanisms for identifying and sharing innovation.

Support educator collaboration and interdependence driven by professional learning communities.

Seek out, review, evaluate and incorporate evidence-based methods.

Encourage educators to be courageous innovators by learning from mistakes and successes, leading to an environment of continuous learning and improvement.

Involve higher-order cognitive and interdisciplinary processes to reach a deep understanding of content and issues in a contemporary world.

Are authentic, challenging, student-centered, and focused on local and global impact.

Meet the needs of diverse learners through a variety of instructional strategies.

Align standards, curriculum, and assessments to design instructional programs.

Reduce achievement gaps linked to poverty, disability, and minority status by analyzing data to establish clear and specific student achievement goals.

Continually improve and increase student proficiency in literacy and math.

Leverage and integrate digital tools to support and enhance learning.

Support educators’ growth in effective and innovative instruction through ongoing feedback and support.

Use time, resources, and structures wisely, to facilitate student and educator learning.

dover school district letterhead

Dover’s Educational Models


Sound, effective educational best practices share certain strategic characteristics. To that end, Dover has identified evidence-based models that we believe must be incorporated in our educators’ approach to teaching and learning.


  1. Competency-Based Education – Competency-Based Education (CBE) is a system that addresses the diverse needs of all our students through partnerships between educators and students.
  • Students are empowered daily to make important decisions about their learning experiences, how they will create and apply knowledge, and how they will demonstrate their learning.
  • Assessment is a meaningful, positive, and empowering learning experience for students that yields timely, relevant, and actionable evidence.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Students progress based on evidence of mastery, not seat time.
  • Students learn actively using different pathways and varied pacing.
  • Strategies to ensure equity for all students are embedded in the culture, structure, and pedagogy of schools and education systems.
  • Rigorous, common expectations for learning (knowledge, skills, and dispositions) are explicit, transparent, measurable, and transferable.

Source: Aurora Institute, 2019


  1. Inquiry-Based Learning – A model of learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios. This is different from traditional learning which generally relies on the educator presenting subject-specific information. In inquiry- based learning students identify and research issues and questions to develop knowledge or solutions. For example, Project-Based Learning is a style of inquiry-based learning and involves a dynamic approach that integrates knowing and doing. Students learn content and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they have learned to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter. Project-Based Learning serves as a vehicle for students to develop skills such as: communication, creativity, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.

Source: PBL Works, 2019


  1. Collaborative Learning - Collaborative learning brings students together to create and share knowledge and perspectives to enhance learning outcomes.  The focus on a mutual goal promotes interdependence and cooperative strategies to create projects or solve problems together. By capitalizing on the individual strengths of each learner, students work together to search for understanding, meaning, or solutions to create an artifact or product of their learning.  


Collaborative practices promote problem-solving skills, communication, along with other work-study practices that prepare students for a rapidly evolving world.  Collaboration can occur within the immediate learning community, or globally through the integration of technology. By working together, students make cross-disciplinary connections, broadening their capacity to solve novel problems with creative approaches.  This application of knowledge allows for deeper learning and enhances the culture of the learning environment.



  1. Formative Instructional Practices – Formative instructional practices use clear learning targets, collect and document evidence of student learning, provide effective feedback, and prepare students to take ownership of their own learning.

Source: Dylan Wiliam Center, 2019


  1. Depth of Knowledge – Depth of Knowledge is a framework that teachers must apply to ensure that students can learn deeply. This tool consists of 4 levels:

Level 1. Recall and Reproduction: At this level, students recall facts or use simple procedures. Copying, computing, defining, and recognizing are typically Level 1 tasks.

Level 2. Skills and Concepts: At this level, students must make some decisions about the approach. Tasks with more than one mental step, such as comparing, organizing, summarizing, predicting, and estimating, are typically Level 2 tasks.

Level 3. Strategic Thinking: At this level, students must use planning and evidence, and thinking is more abstract. Solving non-routine problems, justifying choices, designing an experiment, or analyzing characteristics of a genre are typically level 3 tasks.

Level 4. Extended Thinking: At this level students synthesize information from multiple sources, often over an extended period of time, or transfer knowledge from one domain to solve problems in another. These tasks require the most complex cognitive effort. Designing a solution, interpreting and evaluating results, analyzing multiple sources, or creating an original piece would all be examples of a Level 4 task.

Students must think deeply on a daily basis. The Depth of Knowledge Framework provides a tool and common language to make that happen in learning environments.

Source: ASCD, 2019

Dover School District letterhead

The Dover School District is transitioning to Competency-Based Education (CBE) to allow educators to honor every child’s unique learning process, thus empowering all learners to succeed in an evolving workplace and world.

Competency-Based Education is a system that addresses the diverse needs of all students. CBE ensures all students reach mastery of content and skills at their own pace. In a CBE system, there is no penalty for relearning.  Making mistakes is regarded as an opportunity for growth. 

Competency-Based Education allows students voice and choice in creating their own pathways for learning. The system enables students to achieve greater understanding through relevant application and assessment of learning.

In a Competency-Based Education system, students strengthen skills highly valued by the workplace such as creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. Students develop ownership of their learning which in turn fosters investment in school and deeper understanding, encourages perseverance, risk taking, and learning from mistakes. 

Competency-Based Education supports the Dover School District’s mission of working collaboratively to empower all learners to become dynamic global citizens.

Beginning in 2013, The New Hampshire Department of Education invited educators to participate in the process of creating statewide college and career ready competencies. Educators representing the K-16 education spectrum were chosen for this work based on education level served, geographical representation, central office representation, and classroom educator representation. In addition to these educators, representatives from the content-specific New Hampshire Teachers Associations and other content-specific stakeholder organizations were also invited to serve on these design committees.

These competencies are approved by the State Board of Education for statewide use. As of May, 2014, they include the New Hampshire Board of Education approved Common Core State Standards-Aligned Competencies in Mathematics and English Language Arts and the New Hampshire K-12 Model Science Competencies. In August, 2014, The State Board of Education also approved the Work-Study Practices competencies.



New Hampshire State Model 9-12 Competencies - State Board Approved:

English Language Arts HS Competencies 

Mathematics HS Competencies, REVISED 2016 

Science HS Competencies 

Art Competencies

New Hampshire State Model K-8 Competencies - State Board Approved:

English Language Arts K-8 Competencies 

Mathematics K-8 Competencies 

Science K-8 Competencies 

New Hampshire Work-Study Practices Competencies - State Board Approved:

Work-Study Practices Competencies and Guidelines 

Dover employs teachers and staff from all walks of life and different backgrounds.  For the 2019-2020 school year, Dover has 337 teachers who hold varying degrees.

pie chart of dover's educators degress held

Classes taught by an experienced educator


Classes taught by a teacher certified in the given subject


Average teacher salary


Classes taught by educators on an Intern or Emergency Authorization


Learn More

Dover is working towards a multi-tier intervention system. Multi-tiered instruction is used to efficiently differentiate instruction for all students. The model incorporates increasing intensities of instruction offering specific, research-based interventions matched to student needs.

Dover’s Multi-Tiered Intervention Plan

6 Essential Elements:

  • Scientifically sound universal or whole class instruction
  • Universal screening
  • Data-Based Decision-Making
  • Scientifically sound intervention delivered in “tiered system
  • Student progress monitoring
  • Fidelity of Implementation


Dover’s Core Instruction

In core instruction all students receive high quality, differentiated, culturally responsive core academic instruction through the general education program. It is designed to meet the needs of and ensure positive outcomes for a minimum of 80% of all students.


Dover’s Targeted Instruction

Targeted instruction is small-group supplemental instruction in addition to the time allotted for core instruction. Targeted instruction included programs, strategies and procedures designed and employed to supplement, enhance and support core instruction.


Dover’s Targeted Instruction


For students demonstrating difficulty in learning and have not responded to core instruction.


Specialized, scientifically based programs.


Homogeneous small group instruction.


30 minutes of instruction in addition to core instruction.


Regular progress monitoring to ensure adequate progress.


Personnel determined by school – Title I tutor, interventionist, paraprofessional, reading specialist, classroom teacher.


May be in or outside of the classroom.


Intensive Instruction

Intensive instruction is powerful, strategic, supplemental, specifically designed and customized small-group or 1:1 instruction that is extended beyond the time allocated for core instruction.


Dover’s Intensive Instruction


For students identified with marked learning difficulties and have not responded to core or targeted instruction.


Sustained, intensive, scientifically based programs emphasizing the critical skills of learning for students with disabilities.


Homogeneous small group 1:1 – 1:3


30 minutes of instruction in addition to core instruction.


Progress monitoring weekly on target skills to ensure adequate learning and progress.


Special education teacher, reading specialist.


Appropriate setting designated by the school.



Benefits of Dover’s Growing Readers Multi-Tiered Intervention Plan

  • Earlier identification of learning difficulties.
  • Increased support for struggling students.
  • Informed and involved parents.
  • Collaborative problem-solving approach.
  • Responsive improvement model of assessing, planning and implementing.
  • Individualized instruction.
Dover Title 1 logo


Please click here to learn more about how the Dover School District aims to serve children with unique needs.

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Average Class Size - Dover

Average Class Size - State