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Smarter Balanced Celebrates Successful Practice Run

This coming school year, a majority of states will implement the Common Core State Standards and corresponding assessments from either the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. To prepare for the new assessments, both consortia field-tested thousands of test items this spring. AACTE asked each consortium to provide our members with an update on its progress. This post addresses Smarter Balanced; find the PARCC update here. The views in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

As K-12 schools across the country work on implementing the Common Core State Standards, a major body of work has been preparation of new assessments built to assess student mastery of the standards. In June, the 22-state Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium marked a significant milestone as its field test came to a close. The scale and scope of this “practice run” of new assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards was truly unprecedented; 4.2 million students participated, making this field test the largest online assessment in the nation’s history.

PARCC Completes Field Testing of Common Core Assessments

This coming school year, a majority of states will implement the Common Core State Standards and corresponding assessments from either the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. To prepare for the new assessments, both consortia field-tested thousands of test items this spring. AACTE asked each consortium to provide our members with an update on its progress. This post addresses PARCC; find the Smarter Balanced update here. The views in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

In June, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)—which includes 14 states and the District of Columbia—accomplished a major milestone: the completion of a field test of new, Common Core-aligned assessments that were developed for the states by the states. Almost 4 years in the making, these K-12 assessment systems came online this spring as states started to “test the test” to ensure that assumptions made about content alignment, use of technology, and ease of use for both students and teachers alike were on target.

Model Standards for School Leaders Getting an Update

This summer, two national education organizations will revise the model standards for the preparation, performance, support, and evaluation of school leaders. The work is expected to be completed in October.

With renewed support from the Wallace Foundation, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Policy Board for Education Administration (NPBEA) will convene panels to update the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards, last updated in 2008, and the National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) standards, last revised in 2011. The effort also includes drafting new standards for superintendents or other central-office staff who supervise principals.

NASDTEC Task Force to Develop Model Code of Educator Ethics

A new effort by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) will attempt to develop a national framework for PK-12 educator ethics.

Beginning with a meeting June 19-21 in Maryland, the Model Code of Educator Ethics Task Force will review existing codes of ethics over the coming year and draft a consensus document that could be adopted by states, which currently have varying guidelines in place. A public review period is planned before the model code is finalized in summer 2015.

New Reports Heighten Attention to Diversity of Teaching Workforce

A new report from the National Education Association (NEA) is the latest in a recent flood of attention to the lack of diversity among the nation’s teaching workforce.

Earlier this week, NEA released Time for a Change: Diversity in Teaching Revisited, which explores the need to recruit and retain teachers of color and the political context that has diminished interest in and initiatives toward meeting the goal. According to Segun Eubanks, director of NEA’s Teacher Quality Department, “This is not a new concern.” The paper examines the progress—or lack of progress—made to address diversity of the teaching workforce and uses the findings as a basis for recommending change.

CEEDAR Center Offers Intensive Technical Assistance to SEAs, EPPs

The Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center, a national center funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, seeks state partners—including state education agencies (SEAs) and educator preparation programs (EPPs)—to work collaboratively on teacher and leader effectiveness across the career continuum to help students with disabilities achieve college and career readiness in inclusive settings.

States may apply to the CEEDAR Center for intensive technical assistance for up to 4 years. Grantees will create strategic partnerships among SEAs and EPPs to support educator preparation faculty and administrators, researchers, state policy makers, and school-based professionals in building and sustaining an aligned, coherent, and systemic approach to personnel preparation. An online application must be submitted by August 1 by the state’s chief school officer or designee, in collaboration with the partnering SEA and EPPs.

Report Shows Need for Better Assessment Literacy

Last week, the Northwest Evaluation Association, in cooperation with Grunwald Associates, released a new report, Make Assessment Matter. The report follows up on a study done by the group 2 years ago of assessment perceptions held by parents, teachers, and district administrators.

In the current landscape where standards, accountability assessments, and use of student value-added measures to evaluate teachers prevail, the researchers expanded survey respondents to include students to better understand their awareness and what value—if any—they perceive in educational testing.

Based on survey data collected from more than 1,000 students in grades 4-12, more than 1,000 PK-12 classroom teachers, and 200 district administrators, the report highlights six key findings:

Let CAEP Hear From You!

Want to make sure the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) hears from the field? A new survey asks teacher educators to help shape CAEP’s advanced standards, weigh in on preferred accreditation supports, and more.

In an announcement posted yesterday, CAEP invites institutions to provide feedback via an online survey. Part of the instrument is described as “a critical research project to ensure the highest level of service and support to institutions,” while other questions seek input on newly drafted standards for preparation programs at the advanced level. Participation in the survey is anonymous.

You have only a brief window to respond, so don’t delay: The survey is open through Thursday, May 15.

Alliance: Allow More Time for Implementing Common Core State Standards

Policy makers should allow more time for schools to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), according to a statement released today by the Learning First Alliance.

The Alliance—a partnership of leading education organizations, including AACTE—wants policy makers to make sure instructional alignment and various supports are established before they apply high-stakes consequences to CCSS test results.

In support of this agenda, a new web site houses implementation success stories, such as podcasts from selected states, and a collection of other implementation resources.

New Carnegie Report Examines Effects of Teacher Turnover

On March 19, I attended the release event of Beginners in the Classroom: What the Changing Demographics of Teaching Mean for Schools, Students, and Society, a report that examines the causes, conditions, and consequences of the rise of less-experienced teachers in the classroom.

Issued by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the report cites research showing that the shift toward greater numbers of inexperienced teachers has “serious financial, structural, and educational consequences for American public education—straining budgets, disrupting school cultures, and, most significantly, depressing student achievement.” (AACTE, too, seeks to address these problems through its Educator Workforce Advisory Task Force, an initiative of the new Innovation Exchange.)

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