Posts Tagged ‘assessments’

CTE Research Review

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Over the past few weeks, a number of critical reports and research papers came out with wide-spreading implications for Career Technical Education (CTE). Below are summaries of a few that caught our attention.

The Center for Great Teachers and Leaders released 21st Century Educators: Developing and Supporting Great Career and Technical Education Teachers, a new special issue brief focusing on the human capital management policies impacting CTE educators: certification, performance evaluation and professional learning opportunities. The issue brief, which NASDCTEc had an opportunity to review, provides a comprehensive overview of the current policies in place across the country and raises issues for greater consideration as states refine their certification, evaluation and professional development systems. The brief also contains a useful glossary of key terms.

The Center for Education Policy issued Career Readiness Assessments across States: A Summary of Survey Findings, the result of a survey of 46 State CTE Directors on the range of assessments used in their states to measure students’ career readiness and how those assessments are used, which NASDCTEc also had the opportunity to review. Some key findings from the report include:

U.S. States in a Global Context: Results from the 2011 NAEP-TIMSS Linking Study offers an analysis that allows state scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to be compared. In short, the study found that 36 states were above the TIMSS average in mathematics (with only six states lower) and 47 were above the TIMSS average in science for 8th-grade students. While this is heartening, it’s also important to note that Massachusetts was the only state to reach the “high benchmark” rating on TIMSS, defined as “students can apply their understanding and knowledge in a variety of relatively complex situations,” joined by five high-performing countries.

Similarly, in science, eight states (Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin) reached the “high benchmark,” defined as “students can reason with information, draw conclusions, make generalizations and solve linear equations.”

The first of its kind OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills presents the initial results of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), which evaluates and compares the skills of 166,000 adults from 24 countries. A major component is the direct assessment of key information-processing skills: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in the context of technology-rich environments.

A new report by the Brookings InstituteStandardized Testing and the Common Core Standards: You Get What You Pay For? – explores the (very minimal) impact states leaving either the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers have on the price of those assessments per student. The paper makes a strong case to states to not sacrifice test quality by presumably leaving either consortia, in order to save $10 or $20 per student – a drop in the bucket of an education system that spends more than $10,000 per student annually.

The Hamilton Project, out of the Brookings Institute, released a policy brief on Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century, calling for three major structural reforms to a policy that has largely remained unchanged over the past forty years since it was first launched:

  1. Augmenting the Pell program’s financial support with tailored guidance and support services that have been shown to improve academic and/or labor-market success (which has implications for One-Stop Career Centers);
  2. Simplifying the eligibility and application process to ensure that the program reaches those who need it most;
  3. Strengthening incentives for student effort and timely completion, including providing more flexibility for when and how students earn credits


Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Research, Resources
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PARCC Sets Benchmark to Define Academic Preparation Necessary for College and Career Readiness

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Governing Board and the PARCC Advisory Committee on College Readiness (ACCR) have established a common benchmark to define the academic preparation necessary for college and career readiness.

Recently, the groups voted unanimously to adopt a College- and Career-Ready Determination (CCRD) policy and Policy-Level Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs). Agreement on a CCRD policy and the PLDs in mathematics and English language arts/literacy is a significant milestone in the development of the next generation assessments, according to a recent PARCC announcement.

The CCRD policy defines the level of academic preparation in English language arts/literacy and mathematics students need to be successful in entry-level, credit-bearing courses in two- and four-year public institutions of higher education. Such institutions include technical colleges that award degrees or credentials aligned to entry requirements of middle- or high-skilled jobs.

Further, students who achieve at the CCR level on the secondary assessments will be able to enter directly into certain entry-level, credit-bearing courses in those subject areas without needing to take placement tests.

The CCRD policy recognizes the importance of academic preparation, but also notes that a focus on that area alone does not encompass the full range of knowledge, skills, and characteristics that students need to be successful. Skills and traits such as persistence, motivation, time management, employability skills and technical skills also are essential. The CCRDs aims to serve as one among many tactics to support students as they work to be college and career ready.

Learn more at

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By admin in News
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Eleven States Submit ESEA Waiver Applications

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Eleven states submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday to obtain a waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB): Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. These states’ applications will be examined by peer reviewers after Thanksgiving, and winning states will be notified by mid- January.

As part of their applications, states were asked to demonstrate how they plan to implement college- and career-ready standards and tie state tests to them; adopt a differentiated accountability system that focuses on the bottom 15 percent of schools; and craft guidelines for teacher- and principal-evaluation systems that will be based partly on student growth and be used for personnel decisions. The waivers will eliminate the 2014 deadline for bringing all students to proficiency in math and reading, eliminate NCLB sanctions for schools, and provide district officials with greater flexibility to use Title I funds.

Thirty-nine states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signaled their intent to apply for an NCLB waiver. The next deadline for states to submit applications is in mid-February.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager


By admin in Legislation
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Draft Model Content Frameworks Feedback Deadline Extended to August 31

Friday, August 19th, 2011

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has extended the deadline to submit feedback on draft model content frameworks to August 31. The change was made to provide the greatest number of stakeholders with the time needed to offer substantive and thorough comments.

The draft model content frameworks are being designed to develop K-12 assessments. PARCC, a 24-state consortium dedicated to creating common assessments, are aiming to align the assessments with the Common Core State Standards. PARCC received an $186 million Race to the Top grant to design an assessment system.

PARCC says the assessments will “build a pathway to college and career readiness by the end of high school, mark students’ progress toward this goal from 3rd grade up, and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support.”

Provide your feedback through PARCC’s survey by August 31.

By admin in News
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New Accountability Roadmap May Add Pressure for Faster ESEA Reauthorization

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Last week, NASDCTEc reported on U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s efforts to pressure Congress to hasten reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by issuing waivers for states to bypass parts of the current law. Now, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a nonprofit membership organization representing education chiefs from each state, has released a roadmap that will apply further pressure for Congress to take action.

CCSSO’s roadmap, currently a working draft, proposes “next-generation accountability systems aligned with college- and career-ready expectations for all students.” The roadmap is a combined effort of chiefs from 40 states and the District of Columbia to outline areas that should be included in state accountability systems, specifically through ESEA reauthorization. The accountability systems would still require schools to meet high standards, and would also provide more feedback and support to help schools make continuous improvements.

If Congress does not speed up the ESEA reauthorization process, states plan to request waivers to build new state accountability systems based on the roadmap instead of using the federal accountability system, according to leaders at CCSSO. If this occurs, the Department of Education will be inundated with requests for waivers all addressing essentially the same topic. This would unify the focus of the waiver requests received by the Department and would make very clear the kind of accountability systems preferred by states in the new ESEA legislation.

Yesterday, Congress approved the second in a series of education reform bills designed to overhaul NCLB. Despite pressure from Duncan, CCSSO, and others, it looks unlikely that Congress will complete reauthorization prior to the upcoming school year.

By admin in News, Public Policy, Resources
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PARCC Assessment Consortium Launches New Website

Monday, June 20th, 2011

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is one of two consortia developing next-generation assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The group of 24 states received a $186 million Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education to create the tests. Recently, PARCC unveiled a new website to provide more accessible information on the consortium’s work.

The website will provide viewers with information on the PARCC consortium, progress in developing and implementing the assessments, and more. In the Classroom is a page dedicated to supporting teachers as they plan for the arrival of the new assessments. Also, the PARCC States site highlights the states participating in the consortium, and gives detailed information about each state’s commitment to college and career readiness.

Stay informed of the group’s progress by signing up for the PARCC mailing list.

By admin in News, Resources
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Community College Placement Tests: ‘Mismatch Between Interventions and Assessments’

Friday, February 25th, 2011

While over half of community college students enroll in at least one remedial course, a recent study finds little correlation between postsecondary remediation and increased student outcomes. In the working paper, Assessing Developmental Assessment in Community Colleges, researchers from Teachers College at Columbia University examine the role of assessment and placement within community colleges. They recommend that states and community colleges reform the remediation process by taking a closer look at the placement tests that land students in remedial coursework in the first place.

The authors found a trend towards state standardization of assessments and mandatory enrollment in remedial courses if placed, but remarked that “While standardization of an effective strategy may improve student outcomes, standardization of an ineffective strategy may worsen them.”

According to the paper, 92 percent of 2-year colleges administer assessments to determine whether remedial coursework is needed, most using the ACCUPLACER and/or COMPASS exams. While studies find both tests fairly valid measures of predicting students’ math, reading, and writing grades, they also find that the resulting placement recommendations do not seem to improve student outcomes. As noted by the authors, “This suggests a mismatch between interventions and assessments.”

The researchers suggest using a more comprehensive assessment (or multiple assessments) including academic, diagnostic, and affective measures, to better place students and to improve student outcomes.

By admin in Research
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States Progressing with College- and Career-Ready Agenda, Survey Finds

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Each year Achieve, Inc. reports on the progress of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in implementing college- and career-ready policies. Closing the Expectations Gap, 2011, the sixth annual report in this series, found that states are increasingly aligning the expectations for high school graduates with the demands of college and the workplace, but there is more work to be done. Mike Cohen, Achieve’s president said in statement, “While support for the college- and career-ready agenda is widespread, state progress adopting the policies of this agenda has remained mixed.”

This year’s report found the following:

You can find state by state results here.

By admin in Public Policy
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Race to the Top Assessment Winners Announced

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Today, the Department of Education announced more than $330 million in Race to the Top assessment grant awards to the consortia of states that submitted applications. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) will receive $170 million and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) will receive $160 million. The goal of these two consortia is to develop a “new generation” of math and English language arts assessments for third grade through high school that will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments will be put into place by the 2014-2015 school year.

PARCC is a coalition of 26 states and will test students’ ability to read complex text, complete research projects, excel at classroom speaking and listening assignments, and work with digital media. The consortia will replace the single year-end high stakes test with a series of assessments given throughout the year. PARCC’s application stated that its assessment system “will provide the tools needed to identify whether students—from grade 3 through high school—are on a trajectory for postsecondary success and, critically, where gaps may exist and how they can be remediated well before students enter college or the workforce.”

SBAC is comprised of 31 states that will test students using computer adaptive technology that will ask students tailored questions based on their previous answers. The consortia will still use a single test at the end of the year for accountability purposes, but will create a series of interim tests throughout the year to let students, parents, and teachers know whether students are on track. You can see which states are included in both of the consortia here.

In a speech this morning at Achieve, Inc. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that states in both consortia have agreed to set the same achievement levels or cut‐scores on their  assessments and that the Department will ask them to collaborate to make sure student test results are comparable across participating states. Duncan also laid out how these assessments differ from existing state tests, including the use of smart technology, immediate feedback, accommodations, and the use of formative assessments that document student growth. Finally he said that “for the first time, the new assessments will better measure the higher‐order thinking skills so vital to success in the global economy of the 21st century and the future of American prosperity. To be on track today for college and careers, students need to show that they can analyze and solve complex problems, communicate clearly, synthesize information, apply knowledge, and generalize learning to other settings.”

As you may be aware, there was a third group of states, the State Consortium on Board Examination Systems, that applied for $30 million in funding under the competition to support assessments at the high school level. However, this group did not win an award.

By admin in News, Public Policy
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NAGB Moves Forward in College and Work Preparedness Research

Friday, May 14th, 2010

The group that oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card, launched a commission that its members say could help provide information that would assists education stakeholders and policymakers with developing education and workforce training policies, according to a May 12 Education Daily article.

The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) created the NAEP High School Achievement Commission to study results of its program of research on prepared­ness. The study is part of NAGB’s overall project to align NAEP data with college admissions criteria and employers’ workforce competency standards.

NAGB — a 26-member panel made up of educators, lawmakers, testing and curriculum experts, business leaders, others – moves forward with this project as other major initiatives to measure college and career readiness also rise in the education policy world.  Indeed, the issue of measuring college and career readiness is of particular interest in the CTE community.

Education Daily cited the Commission Chairman Ronnie Musgrove, a former Mississippi governor, who said “The U.S. has no common measure to inform the public about the degree to which we are producing students who are ready for college and the workforce,” said Musgrove, a former Missis­sippi governor.

“At a time when our nation confronts both high unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled workers and profession­als, no issue is more important than preparing high school graduates to meet the demands of the global economy.”

Musgrove said the commission aims to re­lease its findings on NAGB’s program of research on preparedness in the fall.

By admin in News
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