Bursting the Bubbles: Reassessing Assessment

Tuesday, Nov. 18

8 a.m. Welcome

8:30 a.m. Beyond the Bubble Test: How to Measure 21st Century Learning –How can the U.S. get beyond its current ways of measuring student skills and learning? Why is such a shift important? How do high-performing countries approach student assessment? Are the planned Common Core exams a step in the right direction of measuring what students should know and be able to do at different grade levels?

  • Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University

Other articles to read on this topic:

9:15 a.m. Future Shock: The Rollout of the Common Core Assessments – What will the rollout of Common Core assessments, including those being developed by PARCC and Smarter Balanced, look like? This session examines where things stand and what the withdrawal of many states from the two testing consortia means.  Numerous other issues are on the horizon: funding for the assessments, establishment of cut scores, and whether states should move beyond high-stakes tests.

  • Anya Kamenetz, NPR Education (moderator)
  • Chris Minnich, Council of Chief State School Officers

10 a.m. Lessons From Early Implementation – Given that test scores are expected to drop as students take new exams aligned with the Common Core, should teachers and schools be held accountable for that decline? Last year, New York did not postpone its accountability requirements pegged to a new Common Core exam, and parents and teachers revolted. California also has strong teachers’ unions and a vocal parent community, yet opposition to the assessments has been muted so far. What explains the differences in response between the two states? How is a school district in Nevada that implemented the standards in 2011 preparing for the tests?

11 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m. Test Time for Reporters: Part I

Standardized Testing, Then and Now – Reporters take a traditional state standardized test and a new, Common Core assessment. An expert breaks down the common traits and differences between the two tests and what journalists should consider as they write about the spring rollout of Common Core assessments across the country. The experts details what the new assessments can – and cannot – measure.

  • Andrew Latham, WestEd

12:15 p.m. – Lunch

1 p.m.  Video Games as Assessments – Can They Be Used for High Stakes? – Efforts are growing to experiment with the use of gaming to measure students’ critical-thinking skills. But how far can game-based assessments go? Could the continuous use of formative gaming assessments eliminate the need for high-stakes tests?

  • Michelle Riconscente, GlassLab

1:15 p.m. Test Time for Reporters: Part 2

Playing Games for Fun and Information – Reporters go through a gaming assessment exercise developed by the AAA Lab at Stanford. The lab is exploring ways to gauge critical-thinking skills and deeper student learning through digital technologies, including those that use gaming scenarios.

  • Kristen Pilner Blair, Stanford University
  • Doris Chin, Stanford University

2:15 p.m. Break

2:30 p.m. Covering Education Like a Science Writer – The author of the new book “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens” reviews the latest research on cognitive science and what learning techniques work best, as well as what helps people retain knowledge for assessments. Among the highlights: Testing can actually help everyone learn more deeply, if it’s done the right way.

  • Benedict Carey, The New York Times

Another fun read by Carey: Cognitive Science Meets Pre-Algebra

 3:15 p.m.  The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed With Standardized Testing – The author of the forthcoming book “The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don’t Have to Be” walks reporters through four case studies for covering the impact of assessments on students and classrooms. Reporters will discuss themes and questions and how to approach various scenarios.

  • Anya Kamenetz, NPR Education

4:15 p.m. Break

4:30 p.m. Takeaways on How to Cover What Assessments Measure – Reporters reflect on how they typically cover testing issues and explore ideas for approaching their work differently when they return home.

  • Emily Hanford, American RadioWorks

Wednesday, Nov. 19

8 a.m. Morning Site Visit to Impact Academy of Arts and Technology in Hayward, which is part of the Envision Schools network.  Envision operates three urban high schools that use project-based learning as a focus to teach students how to think critically, solve problems, and collaborate. Journalists tour the charter school with student docents and watch a student defend his or her work. Reporters talk with representatives from Envision and Impact Academy, as well as students, about project-based learning and other efforts to expand student thinking. Leave at 11:30 a.m.

Noon – Lunch and debriefing. Panelists review the research on schools that emphasize deeper learning and walk reporters through the forms of assessment used by the Envision Schools network and similar schools.

  • Jennifer O’Day, the American Institutes for Research
  • Emily Richmond, EWA (moderator)
  • Ruth Chung Wei, the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE)