The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) emphasizes the need for a balanced assessment system (BAS). While there’s a lot of uncertainty about the fate of ESSA, many of us in the K–12 world understand the inherent rightness of a BAS and will persist in seeking that kind of comprehensive assessment plan. It’s the bright, elusive butterfly of assessment—we all want it, and we’re all working hard to pin it down. We’ve established our vision of a BAS, and it’s based on having a clear understanding of the goals and uses of various assessment types.
How can we find time to collaborate and learn from each other?
We all want to implement constructive, innovative approaches to education and assessment, but that’s easier said than done. One thing we hear from state and local assessment staff is that educators’ time is already short, making it daunting to create and evaluate new possibilities, much less to try new things in schools.
How do you find time to improve education and assessment?
The innovation in assessment encouraged by the ESSA passed in late 2015 sounds great, but we hear from educators that time is short at every level—from state personnel who are responsible for accountability assessments to local administrators and teachers who are responsible for most of the testing students experience. “How can we find time to create and evaluate new possibilities,” they ask, “much less devote time to trying new things in our schools?”
Innovation in education and assessment sounds good . . . but there’s never enough time.
The ESSA expanded the possibilities for assessment, and invited stakeholders to begin to create innovative assessments. However, a question we hear from state and local educators is: How can we find time to create and evaluate new possibilities, much less devote time to trying out new things in schools?
Fall conferences are in full swing for educators, and Measured Progress recently attended two regional science conferences: the California Science Education Conference (CSTA) in Palm Springs, and the first regional NSTA conference of 2016 in Minneapolis. It was incredibly energizing to meet so many science educators, and we came away from both conferences very impressed by the dedication of K–12 educators in the science community. Attendees described their shared mission to educate today’s students to know, think, and act like scientists and engineers, in line with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)*, and they offered numerous ideas about how to best fulfill that mission.
Having to select new curriculum and find appropriate NGSS-aligned assessment tools to support your transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS*) can be a challenge. According to a recent article in Education Dive, the hurdle is even higher: “Teachers should be assessing whether students get the core ideas, but they also need to know whether students understand the larger framework and the ways scientists and engineers approach questions about the world.” In other words, K-12 science education today has to go beyond confirming content knowledge, to helping students make connections across science disciplines. At the same time, students are tasked to figure out how to understand natural phenomenon and create solutions to design problems. That’s a tall order, for sure.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS*) demand a shift in how educators approach science education. This shift includes an emphasis on the integration of three dimensions: to incorporate an understanding of how scientists and engineers think and act with the learning progression of science content. Students need opportunities to engage in learning that blend all three dimensions of the standards:
Measured Progress is really excited about our new partnership with Activate Learning, the publisher of IQWST (Investigating & Questioning our World through Science & Technology). Activate Learning is one of the leading middle school science curricula providers in the US. Their inquiry-based approach engages students in doing science. The partnership was announced on March 31, 2016 at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in Nashville. Since then, we’ve been working side-by-side on a correlation document to show how our two products, IQWST and STEM Gauge®, come together in the classroom to provide a complete solution for full NGSS* alignment.