Ed Eval Week: Anne Marshall on Gearing up to Evaluate in the Age of the Common Core

My name is Anne Marshall, Director of Research and Evaluation for the Center for Collaborative Education. PreK-12 education and educational evaluation are a-buzz with phrases like “21st century skills,” “college and career ready,” and, of course, “Common Core State Standards (CCSS).” With these new changes, evaluators may be feeling the same initiative fatigue that many educators feel.  How do we ensure we have the knowledge needed to evaluate programs arising from this latest wave of education reform?  Fortunately, many useful resources exist to get us up to speed and informed.

Rad Resources: Getting Started: What underlies new frameworks and standards is a shift to learning content along with real-world skills that will allow students to apply knowledge in a world requiring constant innovation and problem solving.

Fablevision and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills demonstrate the thinking behind 21st century skills and college and career readiness in a short animated video, Above and Beyond.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills also provides resources, including P21 Common Core Toolkit.  While this resource is designed to help schools and districts implement CCSS, its descriptions of practices and how they align to 21st century skills and content standards can be invaluable for identifying best practices in programs we evaluate.

Look at CCSS website for materials specific to CCSS.

Hot Tip: Look up specific math or ELA standards by grade level and topic with a free Common Core Standards app from Mastery Connect.  The number of webinars on CCSS grows daily and a great one-stop-shopping source is iTunes U.  Their collection includes webinars by the National Governors Association & Council of Chief State School Officers, ASCD, and states’ departments of education.

Rad Resources: Because outcomes in PreK-12 evaluation often include data from state assessment systems, the two assessment consortia, Smarter Balanced and PARCC, will soon be dominant forces in our work.  Full implementation of the assessments is scheduled to begin in the 2014-2015 school year.  Websites for each of the consortia provide updates, sample items, etc. that can help us in thinking ahead about future evaluation work.

Lesson Learned: In talking to PreK-12 educators about the shift to 21st century skills and adoption of CCSS, I have most often encountered reactions of frustration and anxiety – key symptoms of initiative fatigue.  It is yet one more change or addition to what they must accomplish in their work and another change to how their students and programs will be evaluated.  Being mindful of this can strengthen evaluation work. In evaluating this new wave of education reform, we must pay attention not just to large-scale measurable outcomes on key standards, but also to systems and supports in place to assist this transition. 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Ed Eval TIG Week with our colleagues in the PK12 Educational Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our Ed Eval TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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