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Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

36 States Participate in Field Test for Common Core-aligned Exams

April 14th, 2014

Field testing for Common Core-aligned assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is well under way in schools across the country. Since testing began in late March, millions of students have taken the computer-based assessments in mathematics and English language arts and literacy.

The newly developed exams are designed to align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and better determine students’

progress toward college and career readiness through more complex (and non-multiple choice) items. The massive field test – which will involve students from 36 states – is one of the final stages before the assessments are finalized for schools to use in spring 2015.

Students in grades 3 through 11 will take the field tests through June 6, 2014. The assessments are as much a test for the students as they are for the technology being used. Many districts had to make large technological investments to administer the exams.

There haven’t been major incidents reported, aside from smaller technical glitches for both field test efforts. Smarter Balanced was scheduled to launch its tests on March 18, but delayed it by a week for “quality checking,” according to a spokeswoman.

Two additional consortia are developing similar tests for students with severe cognitive disabilities.  Field tests for those assessments are ongoing.

You can keep up with the field testing progress through regular updates from PARCC and Smarter Balanced.

Students aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the testing fun. Put yourself to the test – how would you fare on a practice exam?

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Fall Meeting Recap: Common Core State Standards & Career Technical Education

October 29th, 2013

CCSS LogoLast week, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Fall Meeting,  which featured a panel of state CTE leaders sharing their strategies for implementation the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Kicking off the panel was Meredith Liben, Director of Literacy at Student Achievement Partners (SAP), who described the three major instructional shifts within the CCSS in English Language Arts/Literacy, which in essence boil down to “texts worth reading, questions worth answered and work worth doing.” Liben highlighted the challenge among CTE teachers who often don’t have a literacy background in internalizing such shifts within their classrooms, and gave a sneak peek into the work SAP plans to take on in this space moving forward.

Next up was Katharine Oliver, Assistant State Superintendent of Career and College Readiness at the Maryland State Department of Education who described the state’s efforts to identify ways to measure student growth in CTE through the development of student learning objectives (SLOs), as well as the professional development that brings interdisciplinary teams of teachers together to collaborate to understand and identify complex texts. An early lesson learned is the importance of keeping teachers in “like groups,” as CTE teachers want to be able to see literacy through the lens of their own content areas rather than for all CTE subjects. Oliver also mentioned a new Blackboard site where the state will be posting lessons in “those difficult to teach areas” including CTE.

Russ Weikle, Director of Career and College Transition Division at the California Department of Education framed much of the work in his state as “deliberate” alignments to the CCSS. The approach California took when modifying their CTE standards framework was to create anchor standards (a term borrowed from the CCSS’s ELA/Literacy standards) that are consistent across all Career Clusters, making them “CTE standards that CTE teachers can own, while still teaching CCSS.” Under the anchor standards are performance indicators that are specific to the state’s Career Pathways. Next, the state convened educators to review the Career Pathway-level standards and look for “substantial and natural alignment” between them and the CCSS. The task put before them was to determine if a pathway standard would enhance, reinforce or apply a specific core subject standard.” The result of this effort are Academic Alignment Matrices for each of the state’s 15 Career Clusters.

In addition, 500 educators in California have gone through a train the trainer module around disciplinary literacy and are not replicating the training in their schools and districts. The module can be found here.

Sharing Wisconsin’s efforts to date, Sharon Wendt, Director of Career and Technical Education at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction discussed the state’s efforts around literacy, jumpstarted by the adoption of the CCSS and the launch of a Governor’s Task Force on literacy in 2010. With CTE engaged in the task force from the get-go, it has allowed for that work to inform the revision of the state’s CTE standards and for CTE to inform the broader statewide discussion of college and career readiness.   One major takeaway Wendt shared is how the CCSS are helping core academic teachers better understand what happens within CTE classrooms through such inter-disciplinary professional development and resources being developed. Wisconsin has some terrific materials for disciplinary literacy, which can be found here.

Most of the conversation was focused around the ELA/Literacy standards and the panelists did admit much less work had been done in mathematics to date in part because they are not technically required for CTE educators and because there is more resistance from the mathematics community to integrate. Maryland is working to develop senior year transition courses in mathematics, particularly for students who do not meet the college- and career-ready determination on the state test, with a heavy emphasis on mathematics applications. Another idea on the table in Maryland is to identify where a CTE course or sequence of courses with enough math may count as a fourth-year math requirement.

While it is too early to measure results with implementation still underway, all of the panelists noted “appreciative teacher”s and “positive feedback” from core academic educators as early signs of success.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Common Core State Standards & CTE Roundup

August 15th, 2013

CCSS LogoWith nearly every state in the country working to implement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English/Literacy, and more and more resources and information being generated by states, districts, schools and education-focused organizations to support implementation, NASDCTEc is excited to present a blog series on the Common Core State Standards and Career Technical Education! The blog features news and resources that directly impact CTE educators as well as other materials we think are useful to the field. This edition features many communications-focused materials and resources.

In the News…
As you may have seen, New York State just released the results from its first year of administering CCSS-aligned assessments administered and, as expected, scores dropped fairly dramatically statewide. (Read more about it here). Kentucky experienced a similar drop in scores last year when they first moved to a CCSS-aligned assessment.

Featured Resources & Tools
The Center for Education Policy released “Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: State Education Agencies’ Views on the Federal Role,” the third annual survey and report on states’ progress in implementing the Common Core State Standards. Major findings include:

  • Thirty-seven of the 39 CCSS-adopting states that responded to the survey consider it “unlikely” that their state would reverse, limit, or change its decision to adopt the standards during 2013-14. In fact, very few respondents said that overcoming resistance to the Common Core posed a major challenge in their state – with no states saying resistance from within the K-12 system posed a major challenge. This is heartening as the survey was conducted in Spring 2013, when opposition was spreading in many state legislatures, but blocked in nearly every state.
  • At least 30 of the CCSS-adopting states indicated support for particular legislative changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that would directly assist state and district efforts to transition to the Common Core, including supporting professional development or funding for the common assessments.
  • And, 22 of the 29 responding CCSS-adopting states that received ESEA waivers found them to be helpful in supporting the transition of the CCSS.

A number of pro-CCSS websites were launched this summer, most notably Conservatives for Higher Standards, which highlights a range of right-leaning political leaders’ positive positions on the CCSS and debunks many of the false claims about the CCSS currently being spread in some political factions, and iAdvocate for Students, a website managed by three PTA volunteers, who are classroom teachers and/or mothers of K-12 students that features positive stories on the CCSS.

To both promote a number of their own tools for supporting the implementation of the CCSS and to better coordinate related resources, Achieve, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Student Achievement Partners released a joint Toolkit for Evaluating the Alignment of Instructional and Assessment Materials to the CCSS.  This Toolkit features the Instructional Materials Evaluation Tools; the EQuIP rubrics for evaluating lessons and units; the Assessment Evaluation Tool; the Assessment Passage and Item Quality Criteria Checklist; Publisher’s Criteria for the CCSS; and a list of additional resources relevant to evaluating instructional materials’ alignment to the CCSS.

The Data Quality Campaign (of which NASDCTEc is a partner organization) has released a number of short resources to help leaders explain how education data can be utilized and to help dispel myths that CCSS will somehow require the sharing of any student-level data. Notable resources include What Every Parent Should Be Asking about Education Data  (co-developed with the PTA) and Talking about the Facts of Education Data with Policymakers and Parents.

Finally, the GE Foundation hosted its third annual Business and Education Summit last month, bringing together business and education leaders from across the nation to discuss the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, college- and career-ready assessment and accountability systems, and how the business community can best support state and local efforts to implement such policies and practices.  In advance of the Summit, GE Foundation conducted a survey of the business participants. Among the 52 executives who responded:

  • 87% say the new CCSS are “mission critical” to American business;
  • 64% say they have undertaken some efforts to support standards implementation; and
  • 57% say that their organization has had some jobs not filled as a result of skills gap.

Updates on Common Core Assessments
Consortia Musical Chairs: Georgia has withdrawn as a PARCC governing state, while North Dakota and Wyoming officially became governing states within Smarter Balanced.

Also major news is that cost estimates are now available from both consortia. PARCC’s summative assessments are priced just below the $29.95 per pupil median level of spending on summative tests in those two subjects in the consortium’s states. Smarter Balanced is offering two pricing options for states, $22.50 per student (which includes only summative tests) and $27.30 per student (which includes summative as well as interim and formative tests). The higher price tags are associated with more meaningful test items (aka no more “fill-in-the-bubble” tests).

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
PARCC released information on the field testing that will occur in 14 states and Washington DC in the Spring of 2014, for about 10% of all potential test takers. The field test will allow the states to test the accommodations policies and tools, assessment items and the technology.  Over this past summer, small-scale item tryouts occurred across ten states to begin to garner critical data. Tested items are expected to be released to the public in coming weeks.

PARCC recently released the first edition of the Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual, along with a set of supporting communications materials.

Finally, PARCC has formally amended its grant for Race to the Top funding to fully operate as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with its own funding, board of directors, staff and programs. This change aims to provide PARCC with a long-term sustainable architecture to support states in the operations of the assessment system beyond 2014 when the Race to the Top grant comes to a close. For more, see here.

Have a good CCSS-CTE resource to share? Contact us at [email protected]!

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Common Core State Standards & CTE Roundup

July 8th, 2013

CCSS LogoWith nearly every state in the country working to implement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English/Literacy, and more and more resources and information being generated by states, districts, schools and education-focused organizations to support implementation, NASDCTEc is excited to present a blog series on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Career Technical Education (CTE) that features news and resource directly impacting CTE educators as well as other materials we think are useful to the field.

Featured Resources & Tools
The Teaching Channel offers an ever-growing library of videos to support the classroom-level implementation of the CCSS, including a number of videos that could be of specific use to CTE educators, such as this video on communications and robotics, this video on designing an iPad case for teachers, and this video on inquiry-based teaching.

The Georgia Department of Education has a Wiki page to support educators as they implement the CCSS in English Language Arts/Literacy, with a specific focus on CTE, science and history teachers. While only Georgia educators can use the message boards and share resources, the site has some good introductory tools to support non-English teachers’ implementation of a literacy-focused task, including “the reading process” and “writing.”

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) published an article entitled, With Common Core State Standards, Why Service Learning Matters Even More.” The authors define service learning as “when the academic and service connection is deliberate and includes student initiative, authenticated needs, reciprocal collaborations with community partners, and meaningful reflection” and argue that the goals of the CCSS are intertwined with the goals of service learning.

CTB/McGraw Hill released an infographic to help explain the CCSS and related assessments and resources.

CCSS and CTE Update
The International Society of Technology Education (ISTE) has released a position statement supporting the Common Core State Standards and calling on states to align the implementation of the new content standards with the organization’s National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). Included with the position statement is an infographic.

Updates on Common Core Assessments

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
PARCC recently released updated information on the non-summative components of the assessment system, including a mid-year assessment, K-1 formative assessment tools, diagnostic assessments for grades 2-8, the speaking and listening assessment, and professional development (PD) modules for educators and administrators. None of these assessments or tools will count towards a school’s or student’s accountability score, and only the speaking and listening assessment is required for every student to take.

Notably, while all of the components were originally intended to be released in 2014-15 school year, PARCC has decided to delay the formative and diagnostic assessment tools until 2015-16 to dedicate more time to the finalization of the summative assessment components (e.g., performance-based assessments and end-of-year assessments in mathematics and ELA/Literacy). The assessment PD modules will be released next summer. See here for an update on all of these components, including procurement updates.

In other PARCC-related news, Oklahoma has decided to opt out of the PARCC assessments and develop their own Common Core-aligned assessments moving forward, citing technology challenges and costs. The state has not yet decided to fully leave the PARCC consortium or stay on as a “participating state,” which carries no major responsibilities or commitments at this time.

In June, PARCC held three Twitter Town halls, the transcripts of which can be found here.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
As a reminder, Smarter Balanced now has online practice tests that aim to give educators, parents and students a preview of the full assessment system set of come online in 2014-15.  To learn more about the practice tests, see the Smarter Balanced website.

 

Have a good CCSS-CTE resource to share? Contact us at info@careertech.org!

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

 

 

Welcome to the New Blog Series – Common Core State Standards & CTE Roundup

June 3rd, 2013
CCSS LogoWith nearly every state in the country working to implement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English/Literacy, and more and more resources and information being generated by states, districts, schools and education-focused organizations to support implementation, NASDCTEc is excited to launch a new blog series on the Common Core State Standards and Career Technical Education! The blog will feature news and resources that directly impact CTE educators as well as other materials we think are useful to the field.
 

Featured Resources & Tools

Project Lead the Way has created an alignment tool that will allow Project Lead the Way (PLTW) teachers in pre-engineering and biomedical sciences to identify where the PLTW curricula align with the Common Core State Standards for each course.

Student Achievement Partners updated and upgraded their website dedicated to CCSS implementation tools, “Achieve the Core,” with new CCSS-aligned materials and resources for struggling students;  two new professional development modules including PPTs, videos, facilitator’s instructions, and hands-on activities; evidence guides for instructional practice that provide specific guidance for what the CCSS look like in planning and practice; and information on how educators can support the Common Core beyond their school communities.

Aspen Institute created a set of short introductions to the CCSS for parents and other stakeholders.

Governor John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable, wrote a letter to the Republican National Committee in support of the CCSS.

CCSS and CTE Update

In May, the GED Testing Service announced that they will be aligning the 2014 GED test to the voluntary College and Career Readiness (CCR) Standards for Adult Education, recently released by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE). GED has been undertaking research efforts over the last few years to better align the high school equivalency test to “college and career readiness” and the decision to use these standards, according to the GED Testing Service, aims to help bridge the gap from high school dropout to middle-skills jobs.

The CCR Standards for Adult Education, commissioned by OVAE, identify a subset of the Common Core State Standards in English/Literacy and mathematics found to be most relevant in preparing adult students for success in higher education and training programs. The standards have been bundled into five grade-level grouping to reflect the levels of adult learning, which cover the full K-12 standards in both content areas.

Updates on Common Core-Aligned Assessments

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
PARCC is launching a Twitter Town Hall series, beginning on June 5 between 6-7 pm ET, utilizing the hashtag #askPARCC. For the full list of the series and their topics and hosts, see the announcement.

PARCC also recently released an updated FAQ and glossary of key terms, both of which can be downloaded here.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
Last month, Smarter Balanced released online practice tests to give educators, parents and students a preview of the full assessment system set of come online in 2014-15.  To learn more about the practice tests, see the Smarter Balanced website.

Have a good CCSS-CTE resource to share? Contact us at [email protected]!

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

 

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