Articles Fall 2020

By Megan Welsh posted 12-14-2020 00:07



Challenges in College Admissions and Beyond
Maria Elena Oliveri and Cathy Wendler, Independent Consultants

As long as a top priority for many countries is to retain a well-educated population, ensuring fairness in higher education admissions and beyond will remain important. The current pandemic is calling into question the practices and criteria used to make admissions decisions and the role of higher education itself. Students may be unable to take the tests required for admissions or to secure faculty recommendations in a virtual setting. Institutions are finding that online learning is not always viable, with many of the students they serve having limited access to the internet. Many low-income or unemployed students and their families can no longer pay tuition or fees. Along with continuing historical factors, COVID-19 is emphasizing the need for new frameworks that conceptualize the role of fairness in higher education and, in particular, the process used to determine who has access to college. Read more about fairness in higher education admissions here.

Back to School 2020: An Unprecedented Time for Assessment
Laurie Laughlin Davis & Stephanie Lawkins, Curriculum Associates

Curriculum Associates serves approximately 30% of US students in grades K-8 with reading and math curriculum and assessments designed to inform instruction. Data collected so far this school year offer insights about how students are doing in light of changes to schooling since the pandemic began – and raise questions about at-home testing. The i-Ready Diagnostic is an online, criterion-referenced computer adaptive assessment that is administered three times a year, beginning in the Fall, to inform instructional decisions and instructional pathways. Read more here about efforts to use i-Ready data to help inform the broader field of assessment and measurement about COVID learning loss and at-home testing.

The Certainty of Standards in Uncertain Times
Vince Verges, Florida Department of Education

In the current state of affairs that we find ourselves in with respect to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I am once again re-visiting the importance of grounding my work to the greatest extent possible in the stability offered by standardized guidance and procedures. Our field is faced with numerous threats to the validity and reliability of test results that we’ll be collecting and analyzing in the coming years. What we’ve studied and been trained to do in the field of educational measurement are critical foundations to successfully navigating the challenges we’ve already seen and will continue to face. Read more here about how the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing can be applied to ensure appropriate test use in the current context.

Legal Corner: USED Unwavering on Assessment Waivers
Michelle Croft, Iowa City Schools

Spring 2020 was the first time in nearly twenty years that states did not administer assessments to students in grades 3–8 and high school. The spring newsletter previously articulated some of the technical issues facing states missing one year’s worth of assessment data. Since that newsletter, a half dozen states have announced plans to seek assessment and accountability waivers for spring 2021.  In this article, Michelle Croft shares information on the US Department of Education's position with respect to the 2021 administration of state high stakes assessments.

Newsletter Sensitivity Reviews
Sandra Sweeney, University of Massachusetts

I am happy to announce that the newsletter is piloting a process for conducting sensitivity reviews to ensure that newsletter content is respectful of the full membership. The goal of the reviews is to improve communication by avoiding language that could cause unintentional harm to underrepresented groups, such as racial minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, members with disabilities, immigrants, and women. Read more about the sensitivity reviews here.