At this time of year, many of us send and receive holiday cards. These cards (be they paper-based or computer- based!) often have updates on how lives were lived over the past year. In sending and reading these cards,
we underscore the value of communication in maintaining and growing our relationships with the people we
love or hold in high regard. With this value in mind, in this column I provide several updates of NCME
activities, including the community-building that is occurring both within and outside of NCME.
NCME Internal Initiatives
Within NCME, I am happy to report that thanks to the efforts of our new management association—the Talley Management Group—our membership renewal process has been greatly improved. You should have received an email to renew your membership for 2020. Next year, we plan to add the option of automatic renewal and multi-year renewals. If you have not yet renewed, please do so by logging into the NCME web site.
Over the past five years or so, NCME has not been consistent in timely posting of the minutes from NCME Board meetings. To rectify this problem the Board has established a policy of posting all Board meeting minutes within two months of the meeting. Your wait to read the minutes for the September 2019 Board meeting is now over! You can read the minutes from that meeting via the “About/Board of Directors” tab on the NCME web site. Archival meeting minutes are being updated, too.
Also internal to NCME is the birth of Special Interest Groups in Education (SIGIMIES) and new digital community space for these SIGIMIES on the NCME web site. The first SIGIMIE—State and Local Assessment Leaders—already has 21 members and has organized a workshop at the annual meeting in San Francisco, as well as an invited session focusing on reducing testing time in public schools. Later this month, the NCME Board will review the other SIGIMIE proposals that have come in thus far. We expect by the beginning of 2020 to have three new SIGIMIE communities within NCME. If you would like to join the State and Local Assessment Leaders SIGIMIE, please send an email to our Executive Director, Ethan Gray at egray@TALLEY.COM. And stay tuned for announcements regarding new SIGIMIES.
Before there was a SIGIMIE, there was the Classroom Assessment Task Force, which continues its amazing streak of accomplishments. The third NCME Classroom Assessment Conference at the University of Colorado Boulder was a huge success, and was one of the most interesting conferences I have attended in a long time. This is a Task Force that refuses to stand still. For the 2020 NCME Conference in San Francisco, the Task Force has established a pre-conference workshop where they will host 30 teachers local to the San Francisco area to engage them on “Relating Mathematics Classroom Assessment to California’s Summative Assessment for Mathematics.” We have reserved 10 slots for NCME members to join this workshop. An announcement will follow in early 2020. Thanks to WestEd for sponsoring the local teachers.
Another initiative internal to NCME is the NCME Mission Fund’s successful launch of its “Honor a Mentor” campaign. At the time of this writing there are only 7 mentors who have been honored. This is a problem because although these 7 mentors are awesome, I do not think they mentored all 1,800 NCME members. I know all of you who are reading this have been mentored, so go visit the site and make a donation to honor your mentor. I’ve made it easy for you, just click here.
External Collaborations and Public Engagement
NCME has also been busy in public engagement and other outreach activities. For the past few years, we have strived to provide clear and better communication of measurement concepts to the public. We took recent action in that area by posting a formal response to a letter threatening a lawsuit against the University of California system for using ACT and SAT scores in making admissions decisions. The letter requested that the University of California stop using these test scores. Essentially, the plaintiff’s claims are that admissions test scores are the cause of educational inequities in higher education and propagate the underrepresentation of historically marginalized students on University’s campuses. I believe we are all concerned about such underrepresentation and look forward to the day when the proportions of different cultural groups on our nation’s campuses match the proportions of these groups in the population. However, there were several misconceptions and erroneous beliefs in the plaintiff’s letter that we felt needed correction. For example, educational tests such as the ACT and SAT are not the cause of inequities; they are a reflection of them. You can find the NCME response here. Of course, our response is not the end of this issue. Rather, it is the beginning of a dialogue in which I hope NCME can participate to help improve educational outcomes for all children and adults.
Other big news is our new collaboration with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to provide Fellowships for Under-represented Professionals in Educational Measurement. These Fellowships, funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will be made available to graduate students from under-represented groups to (a) attend the NCME 2020 Annual Meeting, (b) participate in workshops associated with the conference, and (c) participate in ongoing activities aimed toward supporting their careers in educational measurement. The primary goal of this Fellowship program is to increase the representation of Black and Hispanic/Latin-x Ph.D.s working in the field of educational measurement. The Fellows will receive funding for travel to attend the 2020 Annual meeting in San Francisco, registration for pre-conference workshops, and NCME conference registration. The Fellowship program will also include a series of professional development activities designed to help the Fellows build a successful trajectory in the educational measurement field, as well as a network of colleagues and mentors within the field. We are extremely grateful to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for this support, and we are proud to not just talk about diversifying our field, but to actually work to make it happen. Look for the announcement and application form on the NCME web site. If you have any questions about this Fellowship, please direct them to me at Sireci@acad.umass.edu. In addition to thanking the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, I must also thank my colleague Jennifer Randall, for helping make this happen.
One final note of external news is Juan D’Brot, who is NCME’s liaison to the Joint Committee for Standards in Educational Evaluation, was just elected to the Executive Committee for this group. Congratulations Juan! We appreciate you representing NCME and keeping us close to our colleagues in educational evaluation.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned during my eight months as President of NCME is the importance of communication. Thus, once again I have to thank our Newsletter Editor Megan Welsh, website editors Matt Gaertner and Brian Leventhal, Digital Presence Committee members, and of course the editors of our journals, book series, and ITEMS modules. In this column, I have highlighted the most important initiatives and activities we all should know about, but it is quite likely there are others I have forgotten. So, check the NCME Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn page.
Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any ideas or current initiatives. And please do me one additional favor—recruit one of your colleagues to join NCME. At $95/year, it is a huge bargain considering our journals, conferences, networking opportunities, Presidential Newsletter column, and other invaluable resources. NCME is the most important professional home for educational researchers and practitioners working in assessment, educational measurement, licensure/credentialing, or psychometrics. Come to think of it, membership in NCME may be the perfect holiday present for that hard-to-buy-for researcher, testing practitioner, or psychometrician on your gift list.
Email and newsletter columns are fine, but more important is communicating in person. Thus, I am greatly looking forward to seeing all of you at the conference in San Francisco. The 2020 conference is likely to be our biggest and best ever, with up to 12 parallel sessions in each time slot covering a variety of interesting, cutting-edge topics. Thank you Andrew Wiley, Thanos Patelis, and Ada Woo! We also have 35 pre-conference workshops! Thank you Kim Colvin and Anita Rawls! You will see a preview of the conference program in the March edition of the Newsletter, but in the meantime, register for the conference now and bring your friend who you just recruited to NCME. See you on the Golden Road to San Francisco. Happy Holidays!
Your President, Stephen G. Sireci