May 21st, 2013
As a part of budgetary negotiations that wrapped up with the State of Minnesota’s 2013 legislative session Monday evening, a $15.7 billion education bill has been approved and is expected to be signed by Governor Mark Dayton. This education bill includes $134 million for school districts to use for free, full-day kindergarten starting in the fall of 2014. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, districts have the option to provide or not provide full-day kindergarten, but where it is offered, it will be free to parents. It is expected to affect nearly 60,000 students across the state.
Other features of the education bill include $46 million for early childhood scholarships to parents in need, $250 million in state higher education spending to freeze University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) tuition prices for two years, and an elimination of the GRAD test as a requirement for graduation from Minnesota high schools, to be replaced by other assessments. The State of Minnesota will also increase spending on assessment by $6.7 million in the coming 2-year period.
May 2nd, 2013
Dr. Michael C. Rodriguez has worked closely with ACET for more than 12 years, and it is with great pride that we announce and congratulate him on his new textbook, Developing and Validating Test Items, co-written with Dr. Thomas M. Haladyna and published by Routledge. Dr. Rodriguez’s contribution, the product of several years of writing in addition to his other considerable responsibilities, is unique in its attention to the subject of test item construction. Arriving at a critical time when test design is a hot topic in education news, educators and evaluators alike can benefit from the book’s extensive use of good and not-so-good test item examples and, crucially, how both can be made better. The depth and complexity of this text alone makes it a valuable resource in the ACET office library, but it is made even more valuable by being the work of a respected colleague. We at ACET extend our thanks and congratulations to Dr. Rodriguez for his excellent work.
March 28th, 2013
Evaluator Kirsten Rewey snapped this picture in her yard just a few days ago of daffodils beginning to emerge from the earth. It’s a welcome sight after the protracted winter we’ve been experiencing in Minnesota. Yes, spring is coming!
Daffodils sprouting by Kirsten Rewey (2013)
What signs of spring are you seeing where you live? Let us know in the comments.
February 7th, 2013
ACET is excited to announce that evaluator Dan Regnier has been accepted to present at the 2013 ADARA conference to be held May 29 – June 1, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, entitled “Blazing New Trails.” ADARA allows those who work with deaf or hard of hearing individuals to work together to exchange ideas, suggestions, and critiques about important issues in the field. Dan’s presentation will be joining over 50 other sessions for this conference.
On Thursday, May 30, Dan will be a part of a presentation entitled “What do we know and how do we know it…Improving service delivery for individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.” This presentation will explore national surveys on the demographics of interpreter practitioners, demand for interpreting services by setting, and Deaf consumers’ needs and interpreter work choices. In addition, using these national surveys as examples, this presentation will explore the principles of quality surveys (item design, response option design, and formatting strategies) and the importance of survey field testing.
We are very proud of Dan’s acceptance to the 2013 ADARA conference! If you will be attending the ADARA conference this year, we invite you to attend Dan’s session.
January 31st, 2013
You may not be aware that February is National Parent Leadership Month across the United States. Parent Leadership occurs when parents (including foster parents, grandparents, kinship care providers, and anyone who serves in a parental role) take active responsibility for the betterment of their families and communities. This leadership might manifest itself in service on a board of directors, as a PTA member, when speaking to school administrators or government, or when active on a community task force. Parent Leaders can be volunteers, role models, and mentors, too. Parent Leadership Month was established in 2004 to raise awareness of and recognize the crucial roles parents play in their communities, their families, and their children.
In Minnesota, the organization Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota will be observing National Parent Leadership Month with an event at the Minnesota State Capitol on February 27th, 2013. This event is intended to celebrate and to honor the efforts of parents and professionals who strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. Last year, more than 30 parents were honored at this event.
ACET is grateful for all of the parents that we interact with throughout the evaluation process and wish to support them in their efforts to strengthen schools, improve their health, and nurture their families. You can read more about Parent Leadership at The Parent Leadership Network.
January 11th, 2013
Last week, ACET staff members devoted an afternoon in service to Bridging, a local nonprofit that provides families in transition with furniture, kitchen supplies, linens, and other essential home goods. We were given a tour by the executive director and informed of the many ways in which Bridging partners with the community and regional groups to provide families with a variety of new, used, and refurbished housewares. ACET was put to work moving various furniture items around the warehouse and then prepared a space in an upper section of the warehouse to be filled with blankets in advance of Bridging’s recent Bring A Blanket drive.
We are grateful to Bridging for the opportunity to be useful to them and to help people outside of the office in a different way.
Left: Executive Director Sara Sternberger explains Bridging’s work to Dan and Stella. Right: Joseph secures the perimeter.
November 30th, 2012
State departments of education are looking for ways to ensure that new teachers are well-prepared for the rigors of managing a classroom and assisting students to achieve local, state, and national educational goals. Minnesota’s latest strategy will be the use of a new assessment of student teachers (students that are not yet certified, but are gaining classroom experience for certification), the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment). Beginning in 2013, the results of the edTPA, in conjunction with other data, will be used to determine if Minnesota’s institutes of higher education – the teacher preparation programs – have prepared graduates to succeed in their own classrooms, and if the program has approval from the state to continue.
The edTPA resembles a portfolio. Student teachers submit past lesson plans, examples of student work and the student teachers’ responses, and videotape(s) of the student teacher leading a lesson in a classroom. The goal of the edTPA is to provide the teacher preparation programs with information about how well their graduates have been prepared for the classroom. For example, in recent administrations of the theory-based test, Minnesota’s student teachers scored well in preparing lesson plans, but appeared to lack skills at giving students feedback. Minnesota’s institutes of higher education have already begun to use that information to improve their programs and better prepare student teachers.
Advocates for the edTPA feel that the assessment gives greater insight into how student teachers’ skills will be used in the classroom. In turn, the test will provide teacher preparation programs with invaluable data about how well the program is preparing graduates.
However, critics of the edTPA have several concerns about widespread use of the assessment. For instance, many teacher preparation programs already require that student teachers videotape themselves, view the videotape, and reflect on what they have observed. Adding the edTPA will require that students to go through the process twice in a short time frame. Critics are also concerned that programs administering the edTPA have not shared data. Little is known about the connection between a student teacher’s performance on the edTPA and student gains in the classroom.
What are your thoughts on the edTPA and teacher preparedness?
November 1st, 2012
Yesterday, ACET held what must be the first ever Halloween evaluator costume contest anywhere. Costumes were judged by a combination of internal staff and staff from neighboring companies. The grand prize was revealed to be $50. Keep reading to discover who won!
Stella’s costume was a comment on the sometimes contentious politics of data visualization. Though she wasn’t actually entered into the judging for the prize, she put a lot of effort into her costume anyway.
Dan’s costume was a traditional representation of an evaluator, complete with degrees, reference materials, and a copy of SPSS! More than one office member was taken aback by his look.
Mary’s costume was a take on how she thinks evaluators should dress and focused on utility, fun colors, and appearing “helpful” and “unthreatening”. She claims she was inspired by Japanese librarians.
Last but not least, Joseph’s costume brought the evaluator firmly into the realm of the superhero. Wearing a suit for his interactions with clients, he reveals the mean/average symbol on his chest when it’s time to crunch numbers. Joseph was the winner of the costume contest and received 100% of the votes!
We had a great time all in all and we hope that you had a fun and safe Halloween. If you were to dress as an evaluator for Halloween, what would you wear?
October 29th, 2012
This year for Halloween, ACET is having a costume contest! But not just any costume contest – the mission of ACET staff is to envision and create the ideal costume of an evaluator. What will we come up with? Stay tuned for when we post pictures and the identity of our winner later on in the week!
In the mean time, let us know in the comments what you think the official evaluator’s costume ought to be!
September 19th, 2012
Are you headed to AEA 2012? A number of related deadlines are fast approaching for the event!
After September 20, registration fees will increase ahead of the American Evaluation Association’s Annual Conference. This year’s AEA conference is being held in Minneapolis from October 24nd through the 27th at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Professional development workshops will be held in the nearby Minneapolis Hilton from the 22nd to the 24th. AEA’s website also reports that many officially designated hotels are sold out for most nights, with others reporting limited availability. If you are planning to attend, now is a good time to solidify your plans.
If you are presenting at AEA, as two of ACET’s own evaluators are, we hope that your preparations are coming along smoothly. The guidelines for presenters advise, among other things, that you make any requests for audio-visual devices beyond a PC, projector, and screen at least four weeks in advance of your event, which at minimum would be the last week of September. If you wish to advertise in the official conference program, the deadline is September 21st.
Are you attending or traveling to attend AEA 2012? What are you looking forward to seeing or doing? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.