Archive for September, 2011

New assessments are coming—word of the new assessments has been spread throughout the cities and countryside. Today we have news outlets and online media to spread the word with a speed that would shame even the best town crier. However, the effect of the message is the same as it would have been in days gone by. There is a sense of anticipation—something is coming, it’s going to be big, it’s going to be different, and we don’t really know what that means yet.

The final release of the assessments is still two years away. In the time between now and then, there is a lot of work to do and many questions to answer. To help keep the public informed, the Center for K–12 Assessment & Performance Management at ETS released Coming Together to Raise Achievement: New Assessments for the Common Core State Standards. The purpose of this guide is to “help districts, states and interested organizations stay abreast of these developments.” As the work of the assessment consortia continues, the Center for K–12 Assessment & Performance Management has worked to stay informed of developments. As a result, they have released an updated version of their guide. The updated version of the guide includes information on next steps of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium as well as recent decisions from PARCC that will affect future planning and the final assessments. Following are the three main points that the Center highlighted:

  • The PARCC Governing Board voted to reduce the number of planned “through-course” assessments from four to two. This change will reduce costs, ensure curricular flexibility, and reduce the impact on instructional time.
  • This school year, PARCC and SBAC will each release prototype assessment items and tasks illustrating how they will assess key constructs within the Common Core State Standards.
  • Over the next few months, consortium member states will identify lead teachers to participate in the vetting of resources and training of fellow teachers.

There are still a lot of questions about the new assessments. Unfortunately, we will have to wait for more information to become available. Do you have the information you need on the assessment consortia? If not, what can we do to help you access that information? Looking at the information that is available and the recent updates, do you have any idea how this will impact your school, district, or state?

The Great Lakes East and Great Lakes West Comprehensive Centers recently came together for their annual combined advisory board and council meeting. The meeting was held on August 16 in Washington, D.C., and included participants from all five states. During the meeting, each center engaged participants in focused state- and center-specific conversations on the work of the past year. In addition, participants held broader, regional conversations on areas of need and further support for each center and what that looks like for each state.

Great Lakes West participants heard from center staff on the progress of the work and engaged in meaningful conversations about what that work means for them and their colleagues. Participants also had the opportunity to discuss sustainability of the work, what the barriers are, and how Great Lakes West can support sustainability of center work within the states. Following these conversations, the two groups combined for an afternoon of discussions on regional- and state-specific needs across education levels. For Great Lakes West, this “needs sensing” information is used to support and contextualize the priorities of the state education agency for the next year of technical assistance planning.

Advisory members are always engaged and willing to give their time to improve the work of the centers. Several advisory council members helped center staff make connections that will strengthen and deepen ongoing center work in Illinois and Wisconsin. In addition, the participation of Great Lakes West liaisons to Illinois (Deputy Superintendent Susie Morrison) and Wisconsin (Assistant State Superintendent Sheila Briggs) created a direct link between need and context conversations that took place during the meeting and the state education agencies. This connection will help plan future center activities.