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Thursday, June 30, 2011

My International Alignment Meeting

I had the distinct privilege of attending an international meeting for the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum (SEC) on June 27th and 28th, 2011. It was at Loyola University in Chicago. They were excellent hosts, and the facilities were outstanding. The conference was "international" because there was a gentleman there from Qatar. Qatar! I couldn't believe it. I had no idea how widespread SEC use really was. Apparently pretty widespread. I was very honored that John Smithson, one of the original creators of the SEC, invited me to attend.

Let me back up. The SEC is a set of processes and tools that can be used to examine the alignment between the intended, enacted, assessed, and learned curriculum. In other words, it can be used to explore the connections between what is supposed to be taught, what is actually taught, what is assessed, and what is learned. In my opinion, the SEC is the gold standard in measuring curriculum alignment. I highly recommend checking it out. Here are two links where you can learn some more about the SEC here and here.

Here are a few of the points I took with me from this meeting:
  1. Socially desirable response problems to the teacher survey don't really seem to be a major issue. In other words, it seems that most teachers respond honestly. This is important, otherwise the information would be worthless.
  2. SEC data should not be used to evaluate teachers. Furthermore, if the experience is going to be useful, teacher trust is a must.
  3. There could be a future for the SEC using teacher-developed assessments instead of just large-scale, standardized assessments for alignment work.
  4. The SEC still performs well, but there is a desire to collect more reliability and validity data for these tools.
  5. Student engagement becomes increasingly clear as a critical variable to explore when looking at alignment.
  6. The Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics has been coded using the SEC language framework, and is now in their database. That means for anyone wishing to do alignment work with the Common Core, it is sitting there for comparison in the SEC database. Teachers just have to complete their survey, and then comparisons can be made.
I learned a lot more, but it's pretty nerdy, and I'd hate to bore you :). Rest assured, I got my alignment nerd on in a major way. I left the two-day meeting feeling very excited about the future of alignment in our country. There are some great minds doing great work. I believe it is our imperative then to both benefit from and contribute to this cause.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Beginnings

Well, if you've made it to this blog posting, you know that I no longer work for Heartland AEA 11. Or, at least, you just figured that out because I just wrote it right there. Either way, here I am, separated from Heartland for the first time in eight years. It's sort of crazy to realize that for me even now, over two weeks into my vacation.

If you want to read my letter to Heartland's HR department explaining my decision not to sign a contract for the 2011-12 school year, click here. There's nothing very juicy in it. But it's my official statement on the matter. I will say this on the matter here in this blog, and just leave it that way: I am deeply committed to the work I do to help teachers and administrators make sense of data, and how to use those data to make the educational experience better for all students. I do this mostly with curriculum alignment data, though I do a fair amount with response to intervention (RtI) as well. That means I will always pursue employment opportunities that will allow me to pursue my passions.

So, what are my work plans now? I have joined a non-profit that I helped start a few years ago called the Midwest Instructional Leadership Council (miLc). Counting me, we have 2.5 employees, an Executive Director, and an amazing Board of Directors. I love working with each and every person associated with miLc. And I am stoked to be working for miLc. I feel refreshed and excited to continue pursuing my passions with this amazing group of world-changers.

We don't sell promises or products that will solve every problem. No silver bullets. Instead, we will work shoulder-to-shoulder with whomever wants to partner with us to bring evidence-based practices to the classroom. We do this with passion, determination, and enthusiasm. We work with teachers, schools, districts, education agencies, and anyone else that thinks we can help.

I sincerely hope that I can continue working with Iowans (and beyond) to achieve these goals. But even if I don't work directly with you, know that it is my sincere hope that all is going well for you personally and professionally. Take care and I hope to see you down the road.