Tech Council Meeting on 1/24/13

Welcome and Burning Issues/Questions
  • SIF (School Interchange Format) Update - Steve reported that Mansfield is a PowerSchool district and had a meeting recently with Marty Rose from CSDE. They are working with Pearson Learning because 113 out of 180 districts in CT are using PowerSchool. A number of districts are piloting the SIF agent from CSDE and they have been pleased so far - it's not perfect but they are listening and making changes. The SIF Agent will communicate with the district's SIS and will automatically update such state reports as PSIS, SASID, and ED 166 (CT State Discipline Report). PowerSchool has a SIF Agent built into it and Pearson is working to have the PowerSchool SIF work seamlessly with the CSDE SIF Agent. June of 2013 is the target for all of the PowerSchool districts to have the SIF Agent set up. CSDE has high hopes for this.

Focus: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Online Testing

There are two Smarter Balanced Pilot Tests being run this spring,the Smarter Balanced Scientific Pilot Test and the Smarter Balanced Volunteer Pilot Test.

  1. Smarter Balanced Scientific Pilot Test
    The Smarter Balanced Scientific Pilot Test provides the Consortium an opportunity to (1) gather data on the functioning of items, (2) conduct initial scaling, and (3) test the online testing system and will be delivered to 1.2 million students from approximately 6,000 schools in 21 Smarter Balanced governing states. The English language arts/literacy and mathematics assessments included in the Pilot Test will be delivered online using a secure testing system.
    The Pilot Test will include several thousand selected- and constructed-response items and performance tasks across grades 3 through 11. The data from the Pilot Test will provide the Consortium with important information on how these items and tasks perform in a real-world setting.

    Currently, there is a Smarter Balanced Training Test available (only) to schools and students participating in the Secure Pilot Test. The Training Test allows students and teachers to practice using the testing software prior to participating in the Secure Pilot Test.
  2. Smarter Balanced Volunteer Pilot Test
    Schools and districts that volunteered for the Open Pilot Test will receive information in March 2013 about how to access that test.
Of those in the room, Pomfret is participating in the Scientific Pilot Test.This runs from the late February to early March. Other districts have volunteered for the SBAC Volunteer Pilot Test pilot which will run from March to April including Killingly and Mansfield. They are working on the logistics. The primary reason for the volunteer pilot is to test the technology to see how many folks can be online, whether wireless will be affected when there are a lot of users online, etc. SBAC has developed specs for using tablets, including PC-based and iPads.
The volunteer districts are doing the following to get ready for the pilot:
  • Download the practice secure browser
  • Testing bandwidth using the practice secure browser
  • Testing Coordinators are letting people know what the testing window is and asking for input into the schedule
  • Districts that are participating in the Secientific Pilot should already know which subject and grade level will be tested; this infomation is not yet available for the volunteer Pilot tests
  • Some districts are using just hard wired computers; others are using wired and wireless computers; others are using whatever they have including tablets
  • Mansfield has done a lot of virtualization of computers and they are talking with Abe Krisst at CSDE about the feasibility of using them for the SBAC test. It remains to be seen so they're glad that they are part of the pilot.
  • They are working on a rotating schedule so that not all students in a grade level will be taking the test at the same time.
Griswold and Killingly have been tapped on the shoulder to do NAEP testing.
Kelly talked about the performance tasks that are being built into SBAC. They are not part of the computer adaptive testing. The implications are that teachers will need to be doing more project-based learning in their classrooms in order to teach students how to approach these performance tasks. There are a lot of unanswered questions about the performance tasks. They include:
  • How are they going to be scored?
  • Are they individual or small group work?
  • What is the time limit? (There are recommendations but no set time)
Click here for a link to a Webinar on Showcase #3 which includes a performance task for Grade 8 math students related to designing a park: Kelly recommends that high school teachers also look at this so that they see what the expectations are for 8th graders to show that they have mastered the CCSS.

Mike talked about the literacy skills needed for mastering the CCSS and passing the SBAC test. This is changing the landscape of teaching. Kelly said that the CCSS is not so much about changing what you do but about changing how you think about what you do as a teacher. It's changing teachers' thinking about their content which doesn't seem to be as concerning to elementary school teachers as it does for middle school and high school teachers. For example, it's not about poetry; it's about what you are trying to teach about poetry.

The NWEA MAP Online Assessment
Jane talked about NWEA Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP). It's being used in Windham and Norwich. She showed an example of a district level report that was exported into an Excel spreadsheet and talked about the kinds of reports that teachers can get in order to help them with grouping, planning, and instruction.
  • Questions for the NWEA MAP Panel next week:
    • Who do you talk to - Rediker? Inform?
    • How seamlessly can the NWEA data be imported into a district's Student Information System (SIS)?
    • Which SISs does NWEA MAP interact with?

How can data from online testing be used to inform instruction?
This remains to be seen. Michele, Jim, and Steve talked about the CBAS MIST assessment data from last year. The teachers did not find it useful for informing instruction. The curriculum wasn't matched to the test. Since teachers couldn't see the questions, they couldn't tell why the kids got the questions wrong. Bozrah is still using it but Mansfield and Griswold are not.

The NWEA MAP data appears to be useful to teachers because it gives them groupings of students and suggested strategies for the areas that students are having difficulty with.

Griswold is using Plato for placing students into appropriate classes and for credit recovery.