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edCount and Tennessee Department of Education Presented Information on Supporting Access to Science and Social Studies for Students with Significant Disabilities Using Content Modules at the TASH Conference on December 13-15, 2017

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edCount and the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) led a TASH conference session to share information on the development of science and social studies content modules undertaken by the Tennessee Department of Education, edCount, and Educational Testing Service. These modules are aligned to general education standards and support educators in providing grade-level instruction to students with significant cognitive disabilities, addressing their complex learning needs, and promoting inclusion.

Around 30 educators, advocates, and other TASH members attended the session. Presenters discussed the key characteristics of effective content delivery, including evidenced-based practices for teaching key vocabulary, suggestions for incorporating Universal Design for Learning (UDL), strategies for developing tactile maps and graphics, and ideas for transferring and generalizing concepts, knowledge, and skills to future school, community, and work environments. They also shared ideas on ways to support inclusion in science and social studies and discuss the impact that effective content delivery can have for all students. TDOE staff shared their experiences with the implementation of these content modules and how they provide a means to ensure classrooms are places where students with disabilities learn, experience meaningful participation, and develop a sense of belonging. The slides from the December presentation can be found here, and more information about TASH is available here. As their website states, the mission of TASH is “to promote the full inclusion and participation of children and adults with significant disabilities in every aspect of their community, and to eliminate the social injustices that diminish human rights.” 

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Dr. Forte publishes commissioned white paper with Council of Chief State School Officers Collaborative

The Technical Issues in Large Scale Assessment State Collaborative on Assessments and Student Standards (TILSA SCASS) of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) commissioned Dr. Ellen Forte to write the white paper, Evaluating Alignment in Large-Scale Standards-Based Assessment Systems, in 2017. Through this paper, Dr. Forte explores technical and theoretical issues surrounding the evaluation of alignment in large-scale assessment systems for the general student population and for students with cognitive disabilities. This paper also specifically addresses the U.S. federal peer review requirements related to alignment. Click here to read the full text.

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edCount Conducted Workshop on Applications of an Alignment Evaluation Framework at the Annual Northeastern Educational Research Association (NERA) Conference on October 18-20, 2017

Based on Dr. Ellen Forte’s publications on the topic of alignment evaluation (e.g., 2013, 2017), this workshop provided participants with solid grounding in alignment evaluation methods for standards-based assessments within the contexts of principled-design assessment development, the United States Department of Education’s federal peer review requirements, and the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, & NCME, 2014). Attendees participated in an activity in which they considered an alignment plan and conducted ratings of standards, claims, Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs), task models, blueprints, and items. The workshop concluded with a discussion of communication strategies in terms of reports and questions from stakeholders, including the media, parents, and technical advisory committees. To learn more about the conference, click here

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Enhanced Assessment Grant (EAG) Award for Strenthening Claims-based Interpretations and Uses of Local and Large-scale Science Assessment Scores (SCILLSS) Project

edCount is collaborating with lead state, Nebraska, and two other states (Montana, and Wyoming) and three partner organizations (ACS Ventures, SRI International, and PIRE, Inc.) on the Strengthening Claims-based Interpretations and Uses of Local and Large–scale Science Assessment Scores (SCILLSS) project, one of two recently funded Enhanced Assessment Grants (EAG). This project will develop a comprehensive assessment approach that clarifies and strengthens the connection between statewide assessments, local assessments, and classroom instruction. Through the SCILLSS project, we are developing tools and resources that focus efforts on restructuring and re-engineering both large-scale and local science assessments to ensure standards alignment, support system coherence, and to yield scores with more meaningful information. This project will have cross-state applicability and generalizability beyond the states engaged in the project. Key facets, including tools and resources, of the state-specific work completed through this project will be adaptable to other states’ contexts and sustainable beyond the life of the project. These tools and resources will be available on the SCILLSS website going live in late Fall, 2017.

Logo for SCILLSS: Strengthening Claims Based Interpretations and Uses of Local and Large-Scale Science Assessment Scores

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edCount Presented Information on SCILLSS Project at the National Council for Measurement in Education (NCME) Special Conference on September 14, 2017

edCount led a panel discussion on the topic of strengthening claims-based interpretations and uses of local and large-scale science assessment scores at the 2017 NCME Special Conference on Classroom Assessment and Large-Scale Psychometrics. In this panel discussion, SEA and LEA representatives from Nebraska joined a representative from each of the three partner organizations to share insights on how the SCILLSS project activities will engage state and local educators, along with large-scale assessment developers, in creating a shared understanding of science as it is taught and tested. This discussion included descriptions of how principled-design elements for assessment can and should derive from the same conceptual representation of science used to support instructional design and local assessments. Participants learned about the initial stages of the federally-funded SCILLSS project and were encouraged to consider how they can leverage similar approaches in connecting instruction and assessment to support far richer standards-based alignment than is possible with most current large-scale assessment designs. 

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Dr. Elizabeth Summers accepts position as Executive Vice President

Dr. Elizabeth Summers HeadshotIn 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Summers (formerly Towles-Reeves), joined edCount as a Research Associate. Since then, she has led and assisted numerous local, regional, and national studies of general and alternate assessment systems, and served as coordinator or manager of various projects to improve, design, or redesign assessment systems. Her work has played a pivotal role in the development and evaluation of alternate assessment systems around the country.  Dr. Summers is currently the Project Director for multiple projects, including SCILLSS, a federally-funded, multi-state initiative to establish foundational resources aligned to the NGSS for enhanced science assessment systems. She also directs edCount’s work on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program – Alternate Assessment, overseeing the assessment design, development, field testing, and the creation of content modules for educators. This new role is a recognition of Dr. Summers’ eight years of exceptional scholarly work at edCount – including development of project instruments, publication of peer-reviewed papers, and delivery of conference presentations -- and her leadership within the company – including project management, management of grants and contracts, and oversight of partnerships. In her new role, while continuing to manage multiple projects, Dr. Summers will assume a broader corporate leadership role, helping to shape edCount’s growth and development over the coming years. Congratulations, Liz!