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University of Connecticut Neag School of Education Office of Assessment

Connecticut Assessment Forum (2012)

The Connecticut State Department of Education and the Neag School of Education are excited that you have agreed to be actively involved in our 3rd annual summer forum for k-12 school staff entitled, "Transition to the Connecticut State Standards and System of Assessments." This forum will be held August 13 (8:00-4:00) and August 14 (8:00-12:00) at the Crown Plaza, Cromwell.

Conference Program

Download a PDF of the conference program

Conference Photos

Click here to see photos from CAF 2012

Keynote Address

Early Childhood Standards
Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan

Plenary Session

Online Research and Comprehension Assessment:   How Connecticut Students in Rich and Poor School Districts Perform on New Aspects of the Common Core State Standards [PPT]
Dr. Donald J. Leu, Ms. Elena Forzani, Mr. Clint Kennedy, and Ms. Cheryl Burlingame

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) include online research and writing skills, skills that state assessments have never measured before.  How are we doing in Connecticut in these areas, especially among students attending rich and poor school districts?  We report on a recent study of 7th grade students in rich and poor districts, evaluating these skills in the domain of science.  This work is part of the ORCA project, an Institute of Education Sciences research grant that is developing valid, reliable, and practical assessments of online research and comprehension abilities. Results suggest that a new achievement gap exists in the ability to conduct online research and comprehend information, even when pretest CMT reading score and prior knowledge differences are controlled. The results should be of concern to all of us as we enter an era of CCSS assessments.

Breakout Sessions

All I Really Need to Know in College I Learned in K-12: Making sense of College Readiness [PDF]
Dr. Chuck Martie

College readiness is a hot topic in the competition for education resources today.  Unfortunately, the concept is not uniformly understood or applied.  This presentation attempts to shed light on the various definitions of readiness in the literature as well as the most popular indicators currently in use.  Additionally, the presentation will offer Connecticut data from various sources to describe the current level of college readiness of Connecticut public school students.  Finally, we will discuss the economic principle of “publicness” in the consumption of post-secondary education and how that can inform the debate.

Connecticut Summative Assessment Results – Where to Find Them, and How to Interpret Them? [PPT]
Abe Krisst

The meeting of the school board is coming up!  You are slated to present the statewide test data for your district. As you prepare, you discover that the percentage of 5th-graders who achieved the goal on the Connecticut Mas­tery Test (CMT) is lower than that percentage in Grade 4. What does this mean? How should this be explained?  Can these numbers legitimately be compared, or is there a better way to present these data?  Find out in this practical session.  The presentation will guide you in finding legitimate and defensible ways to present test data.  Additionally, the presenter will introduce you to online tools that will allow you to study test data along­side other relevant information about your students.

Special Populations Topics for the Connecticut Mastery Test/Connecticut Academic Performance Test and Alternate Assessments [PDF]
Janet Stuck, Joe Amenta

Connecticut has two alternate assessments for students with disabilities, the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT)/Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) Skills Checklist and the CMT/CAPT Modified Assessment System (MAS). This session will look at the data from these two assessments to better understand the students who have participated and identify potential implications for future instructional and assessment decisions. Connecticut has various methods to support special populations on statewide assessments. We will share a brief overview of data we have collected on test accommodations and our two alternate assessments, the CMT/CAPT Skills Checklist and the CMT/CAPT Modified Assessment System (MAS). We will also discuss current information available about Connecticut’s transitions to assessments linked to the Common Core State Standards and students with disabilities.

Using the Latest Assistive Technologies for Increased Independence, Learning, and Assessment
Amy Mindell

It has been an exciting year for assistive technology development! Come to this workshop to learn about new and updated assistive technologies for students with a variety of disabilities, and how these tools can be used to make educational environments and educational testing more accessible. Learn about text-to-speech reading and writing programs, accessible electronic books, voice input options, exciting new iPad apps and accessibility features, and more.

Can Grade 3 Students Type? [PPT]
Steve Martin

As large-scale public school assessments in the United States are poised to go digital in 2015, people are questioning the suitability of putting computerized constructed-response items in front of students as early as grade three. Will third-graders be too distracted by the process of typing to keep their minds on the question that they are answering? Could this mode be threat to the validity of the measurement? Both quantitative and qualitative research that exists on this issue will be presented and plans for near-term future research on the issue will be discussed.

CBAS Research [PPT]
Dr. Gilbert Andrada, Joshua Wilson, Kelly O’Shea

Joshua will provide an overview of student performance in grades 3–12 on the 2010–2011 Connecticut Benchmark Assessment System (CBAS) Writing assessments. Specific focus will be given to describing patterns of student performance across a number of outcome variables, such as overall development, organization, support, sentence structure, word choice, mechanics, spelling, and grammar. These patterns will be described for performance on initial drafts as well as for patterns of improvement across subsequent revisions of drafts. Additional attention will be given to describing how the CBAS Writing assessments can be used by districts and educators to identify struggling writers and as a tool to improve student writing performance. Kelly: This session will examine the relationship between the Connecticut Benchmark Assessment System (CBAS) and the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) through data analyses to understand the strength of the relationship as well as differences between users and non-users of the CBAS at the student-level, school-level, and district-level.

CBAS Write [PPT]
Trish Martin

CBAS Write, a web-based application, uses an automated essay scorer to provide holistic and trait scores for student essays. The benefits of this system include the immediate delivery of scores to students, as well as suggested improvements to their writing. During this session, there will be a demonstration of the CBAS Write website, including the real-time scoring of an essay. Formative feedback tools, interactive writing tutorials and progress reports will also be demonstrated, and you will see some of the website’s new features, including graphic organizers and the sharing of writing prompts.

Text Complexity Matters: How to determine which texts are “on-grade-level” according to the Common Core State Standards [PPT | Handouts]
Amy Radikas, Joanne White, Dr. Cristi Alberino

An essential component of the Common Core State Standards is text complexity, which indicates the sophistication of what students must read as well as the skill with which they read. In this session, participants will understand the emphasis on text complexity within the standards and how to determine the level of complexity using a three-part system.

The Connecticut Standards (CCSS) in Mathematics: Implications for Teaching, Learning and Curriculum [PPT]
Charlene Tate Nichols

This session will provide information about the CCSS and the related adjustments in mathematics instruction and curriculum that support the paradigm shift required by the CCSS in Connecticut.

CEDaR – Student Profiles
Mark Vocca

The student profile provides a longitudinal history of a student’s enrollment in Connecticut public schools and disseminates student data the state has collected since implementing the unique student identifier. The data includes: membership and program participation; state assessments; English Language Learner; LAS Links; Special Education; Early Childhood Outcome (ECO); and discipline data.

Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners: Using Assessment Results and Data to Inform Decisions [PPT]
Megan Alubicki, Dr. Michael Sabados

This session is designed for participants who wish to learn more about English language proficiency and content assessment requirements pertaining to English language learners (ELLs). The presenters will highlight ELL performance on the LAS Links and the CMT/CAPT and will identify trends in performance related to language proficiency level and time as identified English language learners. The presenters will further discuss ELL assessment considerations for the Smarter Balanced Assessment and how results on all assessments can be effectively utilized to make instructional decisions.

Foreign Language Assessment
Rita Oleksak. Rebecca Commenale, Dr. Dan Conrad

With a long history of an articulated sequential program in place, the Glastonbury Foreign Language Program has had the opportunity to participate in national assessment pilots including the ACTFL Assessment of Performance Towards Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL), as well as the Oral Proficiency Interview computerized (OPIc), and the Writing Proficiency Test (WPT). Join us for a conversation where we will share our initial results and the implications for student success at the higher education level both in and outside foreign language classrooms. Presenters will highlight these topics and their most recent assessment grant work centered around intercultural competence, a key 21st Century Skill.

The Evolution of Connecticut’s Kindergarten Entrance Inventory [PPT]
Dr. Peter Behunuiak

This session will provide a brief history of the KEI, including a discussion of why it was created and how it was designed. The results of the latest research regarding the validity of the KEI will also be shared. Recommendations growing from ongoing research and implications for possible changes to the KEI also will be discussed.

Using Assessment Program Resources to Shape Effective ELA Instruction [PPT | Handouts]
Dr. Renee Savoie, Patricia Foley

For 20 years, Connecticut has used results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to measure changes in student achievement and to make cross-state comparisons. In fall 2012, a representative sample of our high schools will participate in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an assessment that has quickly become an important lever in shaping international education policy. This session will provide an introduction to PISA and the high-quality materials that are released and used in schools around the world. Attention will be given to the relationship between PISA Reading expectations and the instructional shifts teachers are making as they implement Common Core State Standards in every classroom.

Next Generation Science Standards and Assessments [PPT]
Jeff Greig, Liz Buttner

Science is about to join the era of “common” standards. Based on the National Research Council’s July 2011 publication “A Framework for K–12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas”, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are currently under development. This session will provide the latest updates about NGSS progress and projected completion, public feedback opportunities, and preliminary plans for including enhanced science assessments in the State’s new accountability system (pending approval by the U.S. Department of Education).

Providing the Foundation for a Continuum of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction
Michelle Levy

Explore the revision process and progress to date on new Early Learning and Development Standards birth to age five. The new standards will be comprehensive, covering developmental domains and content areas, and will be aligned to K–12 standards. The newly revised standards will form the foundation for authentic assessment tools, potential data collection at the community and state level related to child progress. These standards will also inform the development of a revised Kindergarten Entrance Inventory. Explore how new standards and the accompanying tools can be used to promote communication and data sharing across sectors and ensure a strong continuum of early learning experiences for young children.

Digital Assessments: The Role of Technology in Assessment and Instruction [PPT]
Josiah Hills, Abe Krisst

Attendees will take a look at what it means to digitally assess students. They will discuss the benefits and challenges of using technology in assessment and instruction. They will also explore the 21st Century skills needed by both teachers and students to reap these benefits. The audience will begin to identify what actions are needed with regards to teacher training, student preparation and curriculum revision. While IT support will come up, the presentation and discussion will focus on skills needed rather than hardware and infrastructure. Attendees will also be updated on the status of the Technology Readiness Tool that was administered to districts during the end of the 2011 – 2012 school year. The Technology Readiness Tool is a tool that will support states’ planning as Connecticut transitions to next-generation assessments. This update may include any significant findings that were learned as a result of the data collection.

Best Practices for Writing Quality Mathematics Items for Classroom Assessments
Dr. Shelbi Cole

This presentation will provide information about using resources available on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Web site to write quality mathematics assessment items for classroom use. Learn how to write mathematics items that can be used to assess students with a wide range of abilities and access needs.

Computerized Testing and Using the CMT Vertical Scales [PDF]
Dr. Hariharan Swaminathan, Dr. Jane Rogers, Dr. Mohamed Dirir, Dr. Norma Sinclair

It is the plan of the assessment consortia to employ the use of automated testing as a major part of the assessment system. In this session, the current practice of computer-based assessment and computer adaptive testing will be presented. Computers offer advantages to the testing process but the choices that are made in the design of the automated assessment will greatly influence the type of information that the assessments will deliver. As part of this session, current developments with respect to the use and interpretation of the CMT vertical scales will be described. The manner in which these data can be used to assess growth and student success will be presented.

NCLB Waiver and the New Accountability System [PPT1 | PPT2]
Michelle Rosado, Dr. Gilbert Andrada

In February 2012, Governor Malloy declared 2012 the “year for education reform” and outlined Connecticut’s policy direction. Key components of the state’s strategy include the development of the very best teachers and principals, delivery of more resources to districts that embrace reform, intervention in the state’s chronically low-performing schools, and removal of red tape and other barriers to success, especially for the state’s highest performing schools. The initiatives proposed in the ESEA Flexibility Request and all CSDE initiatives this year—including Governor Malloy’s agenda and the CSDE reorganization—aim to create a system focused at every level on preparing students for success in college and careers. This session will give an overview of the strategies and actions being done to implement them.

Guide to the Smarter Balanced IT Architecture [PPT]
Mike Powell

As a part of the government funded Race to the Top program, and as a governing member of the Smarter Balanced consortia, Connecticut has joined forces with 27 other states in an effort to transform the education industry by investing in a standards-based technology platform. By spurring innovation within the assessment community, adopting education standards like Common Core, and creating an interoperable assessment system, the consortia will provide member states with increased flexibility and lower education delivery costs. During this session, we will review the technical details of the systems architecture for the Smarter Balanced Assessment System and give an update on the work being done around standardization and interoperability.

Fostering Evidence-based Cultures in K–12 Schools: Gathering Data from an Online Application System [PPT]
Dr. Mary E. Yakimowski and Ms. Sarah D. Newton

The University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education is well-known for a culture in evidence-based decisions leading to continuous improvement (Freed & Huba, 2000; Neag Assessment Committee, 2012; Yakimowski & Coleman, 2009). Among the tools that are used is an on-line application system, which affords the opportunity to efficiently gather data from different stakeholders. Then, the information is analyzed and multi-angulated to make changes so that courses, programs, departments, or the school can improve. As school district personnel are aware, grade K–12 institutions need data to inform for evidenced-based decisions as well. Personnel need information from students, parents, alumni, staff, and community members. In this interactive session, presenters will share and discuss the Neag School’s use of an online application system as generalized to a K–12 setting. For example, presenters will facilitate discussions about accessing and using an on-line application system to gather data on such things as students’ feelings about the school climate, alumni’s opinions regarding about the strengths and areas for improvement regarding their high school education, teachers’ professional development needs, and parents’ perceptions of strengths and areas for improvement with regard to transportation and other issues. Additionally, the presenters will discuss item format, electronic dissemination, and reporting functions.

Using ePortfolio as a Means to Improve and Assess Student Learning
Dr. Laura Gambino

ePortfolios are becoming increasingly more common in higher education and K–12 as they are an effective way for students to demonstrate and reflect on their learning. They are also being used for programmatic and institutional assessment. In this interactive session, participants will be introduced to ePortfolio and they ways they are used to increase student engagement, demonstrate student learning, and to conduct assessment. Student examples of reflective learning will be shared.

Assessment of Teacher Education Programs in Higher Education: Alumni/Employer Survey Results, K–12 Achievement Research Findings, and What Remains to be Investigated [PPT]
Dr. Mike Alfano, Dr. Michael Fagella-Luby, Dr. Rachel Gabriel, Dr. Marijke Kehrhahn, Dr. Mary Yakimowski

This panel from UConn’s Neag School of Education will discuss major findings from research on their teacher preparation programs. This session will include a description of the Neag School of Education’s Assessment Plan and an overview of studies that have been completed recently. Specifically, panelists will describe major findings from our alumni and employee surveys, staffing research, and K–12 studies (including recent results from studies of student achievement in math and reading). Then, with audience participation, we will open a discussion of additional studies we could explore to ensure our preparation programs continue to meet Connecticut’s K–12 district needs.

Standards Based Grading [PPT]
Dr. Megan Welsh

Standards-based progress reports (SBPRs) differ from traditional report cards by requiring teachers to report student performance levels according to specific educational goals instead of broad content areas. They are an increasingly popular communication tool because they are believed to provide a richer description of academic progress than is provided with traditional report cards. It is also believed teachers will be more likely to focus their instruction on state standards if their grades are more closely tied to them. Therefore, SBPRs have emerged as a standards-based reform lever. This session will share lessons learned from a study of SBPR implementation in one district. It discusses both teachers’ perceptions of SBPR implementation and examines the consistency between SBPR grades and test scores and explores why some graded more consistently with state test scores than others. The session will conclude with implications for implementing or refining a standards-based grading effort.

Adolescent Literacy Assessment: Observing and Coaching Evidence-Based Instruction in Discipline Specific Classrooms [PPT]
Dr. Michael Fagella-Luby, Wan Wei, Joshua Wilson

This session will present an observation tool for teachers and administrators to use based on the components of evidence-based literacy instruction for adolescent learners and the Common Core State Standards. Piloted in Connecticut English Language Arts classes, this tool facilitates teacher self-evaluation and planning, administrator walk-throughs, and peer-coaching. A specific version of the tool has been developed to surface components of evidence-based instruction across Scientifically Research Based Instruction (SRBI) multi-level tiers of service delivery. Specifically, the presentation will present: (a) a summary of recent research and tools for using observational assessment in secondary classrooms, (b) synthesis of six components of literacy instruction for use in Discipline Specific Classrooms, (c) a model of explicit instruction delivery within the SRBI framework, (d) the observation tool, and (e) suggestions and lessons learned from use of the assessment.

Making Good on the Promise for all Learners: Implementing and Assessing the Connecticut State Standards in Music [PPT]
Dr. Linda Page Neelly

This interactive session provides opportunities for participants to explore and deliberate strategies for enriching the music curriculum through the integration of the Connecticut State music standards. The voices of elementary and middle school music teachers offer examples of ways in which they bring the standards and authentic assessments to life in their classrooms and how these have impacted not only their students’ musical development, but also their potential to learn and achieve. Participants contemplate appropriate music assessments for the implementation of the Connecticut State Standards.

Transition from Connecticut Writing Standards to Common Core: Implications for Curriculum, Teaching, and Professional Development [PPT | Handouts]
Drs. Natalie Olinghouse and Gary Troia, Mr. Joshua Wilson, Ms. Kelly O’Shea

Connecticut, like most states in the nation, is involved in an on-going transition from individual state standards to the Common Core State Standards. In standards-based reform, these standards are designed to guide curriculum development and subsequent instruction, to help teachers set instructional priorities and goals, to provide clear expectations for student achievement at each grade level, and to raise performance expectations. In the area of writing, this is particularly important as writing achievement across the nation historically has been low. However, when transitioning from one set of standards to another, there may be significant misalignment between the two sets of standards which can force districts and schools to adopt different curricular materials, rebalance content foci within and across grades, and make substantial changes to professional development programs. Accordingly, it is important to understand (a) the strengths and gaps of the new standards, (b) the degree of alignment between the two sets of standards, and (c) implications of alignment/misalignment for curriculum, teaching, and professional development. This presentation provides an in-depth analysis of the Common Core State Standards in Writing and Language (CCSS-WL) and alignment with CT Writing standards. First, key features of the CCSS-WL will be discussed. Next, alignment between CCSS-WL and CT Writing standards will be presented by grade and grade bands (i.e., K–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12). Finally, we will make recommendations for evaluating current and future curricular programs and instructional methods, along with determining teachers’ professional development needs in order to support students in meeting CCSS-WL grade-level expectations.