January 11-13, 2012
Los Angeles Marriott Downtown, 333 South Figueroa Street
8:15 am Welcome by Dr. Elizabeth Garrett, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs,
Frances R. and John J. Duggan Professor of Law, Political Science and Public Policy,
University of Southern California
8:30 am Keynote Address: Alignment, Misalignment and Real Approaches to Improvement
Dr. David T. Conley, CEO, Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC)
Founder & Director, Center for Educational Policy Research (CEPR)
Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Oregon
9:45 am Session 1: Common Core State Standards and the National Assessment Consortia
Mr. Allison Jones, Sr. Fellow for Postsecondary Engagement, Achieve
Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
Dr. Christyan Mitchell,
Sr. Research Associate, WestEd
SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)
12:30 pm Session 2: International Standard Setting: New Methods, New Questions, Learning Objectives and Advanced Assessment
Dr. Tristian Stobie, Director of Education
University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
Mr. Trevor Packer,
Vice President, Advanced Placement (AP) Program
The College Board
Ms. Carolyn Adams,
International Baccalaureate (IB)
1:45 pm Session 3: Curriculum Innovations: Global Perspectives and International Standards
How Learning Objectives and Assessments Translate into Curriculum
-Dr. Harry Brighouse, moderator
-Ms. Carolyn Adams (IB)
-Mr. Drew Deutsch, Director, International Baccalaureate (IB) Americas
-Mr. Trevor Packer (AP)
-Dr. Tristian Stobie (CIE)
3:00 pm Master Class: Teachers and Leaders: Challenges and Opportunities for Standards Implementation Dr. Morgan Polikoff,
Assistant Professor of K-12 Policy and Leadership
University of Southern California
7:00 pm Dinner at City Club
Welcome by Dr. Karen Symms Gallagher, Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean,
Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California
Keynote Address: Advancing Learning District-wide
Dr. Jaime Aquino, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction
Los Angeles Unified School District
Dr. Elizabeth Garrett, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Frances R. and John J. Duggan Professor of Law, Political Science and Public Policy, at the University of Southern California opened the conference in the morning. She reminded us of the importance of our critical role in advancing the preparedness of students for higher education.
Dr. Garrett suggested that our conference theme, 21st Century Knowledge and Skills, indicates that our policies and practices are responding to the needs of the 21st century. She emphasized the importance of understanding the learning, as a life-long process, and that primary, secondary, and institutions of higher education must work together to support student/development. She also reminded us that the "blunt instruments" currently used to measure students do not capture some of the most essential skills that the 21st century student must develop.
Dr. Garrett emphasized that learning, innovation, critical thinking, breadth and depth, must be at the center of our focus. She closed with a powerful quote from Benjamin Franklin, "Do not confuse motion, for action" and left the group inspired to move into meaningful action.
Keynote Address: Alignment, Misalignment and Real Approaches to Improvement
Dr. David T. Conley
Dr. Conley, chief executive officer of the Educational Policy and Improvement Center (EPIC), founder of the Center for Educational Policy Research, and professor of educational leadership at the University of Oregon, analyzed the disconnect between how students are currently prepared and what it takes to prepare students for college succes. He reminded us that K-12 and university systems historically were not designed in an aligned way. Thus we have been tasked locally with connecting K-12 and higher education systems. States are developing standards to foster well-educated citizens and workers, with some who will go on to college. But the expectations and support in terms of readiness for college are not aligned with what it takes to be successful.
Key principles of college and career readiness, according to Dr. Conley, include a mindset that college readiness is more than a score on a single math or English test. College success is a function of readiness across multiple dimensions, including alignment among student skills, interest, and postsecondary objectives. The current measures are insufficient in determining this alignment. Dr. Conley critiqued grades, GPA, and tests as inadequate measures of students.
He described the current period as a policy environment focused on college and career readiness, as evidenced by NCLB waivers that emphasize college/career readiness standards, ESEA, state college/career readiness goals, Common Core Standards, and consortia assessments. Currently, 93% of students indicate that they want to go to college; only 70% of students graduate from high school, 44% enroll in college, and only 26% earn a college degree. Of those that do enroll in college, 1 out of 3 will transfer, 65%-85% will change their majors, and adults between 20-29 will change jobs 7 times on average, reducing lifetime income and diminishing career development.
Dr. Conley identified four levels of readiness, work, job, career, and college ready, each with unique and increasing preparation needs. He cited schools as responsible for developing the foundation, habits, and strategies for career and college readiness. According to Dr. Conley, young people need to be adaptive, flexible learners who know how to learn. He identified four key elements to college and career readiness: 1) cognitive strategies, 2) content knowledge, 3) learning skills and techniques, and 4) transition knowledge and skills.
Although cognitive strategies are critical to the development of flexible, adaptive learners, they are not typically well developed in K-12 education. Content knowledge must include students’ relationships to the content. Learning skills and techniques must include ownership of learning. This includes knowing oneself, goal-setting, motivation, persistence, monitoring performance, asking for help, and showing self-efficacy. Learning techniques that relate to college readiness include time management, note-taking, study skills, test-taking skills, strategic reading, collaborative learning, and technology skills. Transition knowledge and skills include post-secondary awareness, costs, matriculation, career awareness, role and identity, and self-advocacy. In summary, these key elements relate to the follow: Think (cognitive), Know (content), Act (skills and techniques), Go (transition).
Dr. Conley asserted that we must move students from novice to expert thinkers. Secondary schools treat students as novices and as a result students do not develop deep expertise. He described a college-ready trajectory that moves students from novice toward expert and identified the Common Core State Standards as better aligned with college-readiness, but demands K-12 and postsecondary must develop deeper and more sustained partnerships in order for change to occur.
Mr. Allison Jones, Vice President for Postsecondary Collaboration at Achieve and Dr. Christyan Mitchell of WestEd focused specifically on the assessments related to the common core standards. Mr. Jones described the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Dr. Mitchell provided an overview of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium.
PARCC is a consortium of 24 states and serves as a model for collaboration to improve student college-related outcomes. The aim of the consortium is to prepare students to enter college ready for coursework, without the need for remediation. Additionally, the consortium aims to increase the number of students who are prepared to be successful in college and strengthen the nation’s ability to compete globally. The PARCC assessment will measure a range of skills for students in grades 2-11.
According to Mr. Jones, by the end of high school, what students are typically expected to know does not represent the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in college, which results in remediation. Over 50% of first-time entering students in the California State University (CSU) system go into remediation (the highest rate in the country), despite these students having met or exceeded standards identified by high school exit exams as college-ready. Jones suggested that there is a complete disconnect between what higher education institutions expect students to know and what high schools think those institutions want.
States are working to improve standards and assessments. Over 45 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which identify what students must know and be able to do to graduate from high school prepared for college. Colleges and universities want students to be able to conduct, apply, and identify areas for research. Additionally, they want students to apply skills and knowledge across the content areas to solve real-world problems. They ask students to conduct research, research, communicate findings, model results, and other behaviors that demand critical thinking and applications.
The 24 states in PARCC have agreed to use the assessments that come out of the CCSS to be used to allow students who demonstrate proficiency to move directly into credit-bearing courses, rather than remediation when they go to college. Additionally, these partner states will pilot and use the results of the assessments as part of their state's accountability system. The assessments include summative and formative elements that support the placement of students into GE courses- they are not intended to determine admission to the university. Addtionally, the assessments are not designed for students who delay entry, but rather those who aim to go directly to college after high school.
Mr. Jones emphasized the importance of partnerships between K-12 and higher education, and identified several ways in which this is occurring through PARCC. Partnership strategies include engagement and design meetings, advisory committees, technical advisory groups for English and math, and the higher education leadership team. Additionally state education officers, chancellors/presidents, national education associations, and key faculty have collaborated in this effort.
He raised the question of how to support students who are not on track. Interventions must begin as early as 8th grade. Additionally, in-service and pre-service training is critical to help provide the content and skills teachers must be able to teach. Although the common core standards and related assessments are not without challenges, the benefits and opportunities are great. Jones asserts that it will change the education landscape as students will be better prepared, have more options, and more students eligible for college. Additionally, as students move through the system more quickly, there will be more room for more students to matriculate--thus expanding college opportunity.
The PARCC overview was followed by Dr. Christyan Mitchell, who introduced the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Although the SBAC differs from PARCC, there are similarities in terms of goals of supporting the development of students who are prepared to enroll and succeed in college. Dr. Mitchell described the current state of summative assessments as problematic for many reasons: 1) In that each state procures its own assessment system, they measure proficiency against state standards as opposed to agreed upon standards, 2) Over-reliance on multiple choice, 3) Results are delivered too late for use, 4) Accommodations for students with special needs vary greatly, and 5) Paper-based administration results in time, money, and security issues. We need next generation assessments that measure college readiness, have common, comparable scores, provide achievement growth information, assess all students, are administered online, and use multiple measures.
SBAC is a national consortium of 28 states, that along with PARCC, play a key role in the policies and design of assessments based on the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS). SBAC participants include governors, education chiefs, state legislatures, and state boards of education. These participants, along with SBAC Staff, WestEd, and 174 public systems/institutions of higher education (representing 74% of direct matriculation students) partner in the development and design.
Dr. Mitchell described the 7 key principles that guide SBAC and components of the system. The principles include an: 1) Integrated system, 2) Evidence-based approach, 3) Teacher involvement, 4) State-led with transparent governance, 5) Focus on improving teachers and learning, 6) Actionable information, 7) Established professional standards. The three SBAC components include a: 1) Summative assessment that is aligned to the CCSS and provides growth information, 2) Interim assessment, a non-secure, open bank of items that can be used in a flexible way, and a 3) Formative assessment which aims to provide the teacher with the resources needed to improve instruction. SBAC uses computer adaptive technology for summative and interim assessments to yield faster results, provide a shorter test, increase precision, tailor to student ability, and offer greater security.
He described how the SBAC system exceeds current approaches. For example, although the assessment measures reading and math, as do current assessments, SBAC measures the higher-order strategies that students need to be successful in college. In the SBAC system, the reading emphasis is on the ability to read closely and analytically. Writing asks students to “produce effective and well-grounded writing for a range of purposes and audiences”. In math, students are asked to apply concepts, frame and solve problems, construct viable arguments, and analyze complex real-world scenarios. Such tasks provide a stronger measurement of the critical thinking, problem solving and application that we expect students to have when they go to college.
Dr. Mitchell shared examples of test items and asked, “Why can’t you learn when you test?” He then demonstrated how students can both demonstrate what they know and do so in a relevant way, and learn, as they participate in interactive items.
The assessments and approaches offered by PARCC and SBAC described by Mr. Jones and Dr. Mitchell are promising improvements in measuring college readiness.
A panel of experts presented on issues and opportunities related to international standard setting. Dr. Tristian Stobie of the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) launched the session. According to Dr. Stobie, the OECD proposed that students should be introduced to new ways of thinking and working, as well as new tools for learning. He described the new skills as necessary in today’s economy, noting there is widespread agreement that desirable learner outcomes include:
He cited the essential role of the teacher and school leader in shaping a 21st century student and citing Hargreaves (2006) work, summarized the 21st century assumptions. These assumptions include: 1) Understand intelligence as multifaceted, 2) Recognize students as producers (rather than simply consumers) of knowledge, 3) Curriculum focused on processes, and students knowing how to access and handle information. Dr. Stobie notes that the challenge is to reliably teach and assess the critical 21st century elements and reminds, “We must assess what we value rather than value what we assess.”
Dr. Stobie’s presentation was followed by Mr. Trevor Packer, Vice President of the Advanced Placement (AP) Program at the College Board. In his presentation, “Redesigning High-Stakes Assessments to Measure 21st Century Knowledge and Skills”, Packer noted the benefits of a shift from finger-pointing between universities and high-schools, to working together to support the development of successful college students. Additionally, the climate has shifted from covering a huge amount of content to helping students apply their knowledge. The College Board has collected syllabi and test questions from universities for over 50 years, documenting the shift from a climate that values “memorizing everything” within a discipline, to one that identifies applications and thinking skills related to a discipline.
According to Mr. Packer, high schools that have embraced 21st century knowledge and skills have asked the College Board to make changes to AP. He stated that teachers must have a fair understanding of how their students will be measured. Thus, learning objectives for the new AP have been created based on the content knowledge that a student must have (based on input from colleges) and what the students should be able to do with that knowledge (skills). Test items reflect an emphasis on student application of concepts. Thus, the new AP will align with 21st century demands.
Ms. Carolyn Adams, Assessment Director from International Baccalaureate (IB), followed Mr. Packer with her presentation, “Leadership for Improved Student Achievement.” She described the emphasis in the UK to raise achievement on assessments. When the governments, districts, and schools, emphasize only what we can measure, critical skills needed for college access and success are undervalued and possibly ignored. Additionally, she critiqued the grade inflation that accompanies a high stakes testing environment.
Ms. Adams asked, “Are there any benefits to exams?” and highlighted that exams provide, among other things, feedback, motivation, and social mobility. Additionally, they provide the government with clear evidence of progress toward their initiatives and schools, and students understand exactly what they need to do to get into the university. Thus, there are benefits. However, we may lose students who may have otherwise developed a love of learning in particular subjects.
With this, Ms. Adams described the International Baccalaureate program. IB strives to provide a broad curriculum (6 subject groups) in a constructivist learning environment that values critical and higher-level thinking skills. The assessment criteria emphasizes understanding knowledge issues, analysis, organization of ideas, and the learner’s perspectives. This inquiry-based approach attempts to give students the skills that will be required in the 21st century.
Curriculum Innovations: Global Perspectives and International Standards
How Learning Objectives and Assessments Translate into Curriculum
Dr. Harry Brighouse (moderator), Ms. Carolyn Adams (IB), Mr. Drew Deutsch, Director, International Baccalaureate (IB) Americas, Mr. Trevor Packer (AP), and Dr. Tristian Stobie (CIE)
In a Q&A session moderated by Harry Brighouse, panelists from the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) Program, and International Baccalaureate (IB) responded to questions related to the alignment to Common Core State Standards, facilitating K-20 partnerships, how their programs are implemented in schools, teacher professional development, adaptive testing, and asessments as a mechanism for "stretching" students. Panelists discussed the complexities of each of these areas, including inherent benefits and limitations of each.
For more information about each organization, please visit their websites:
The College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program
International Baccalaureate (IB)
University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
Master Class: Teachers and Leaders: Challenges and Opportunities for Standards Implementation
Dr. Morgan Polikoff
Dr. Morgan Polikoff, Assistant Professor of K-12 Policy and Leadership at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, closed the day with his presentation, “Teachers and Leader: Challenges and Opportunities for Standards Implementation”. His focus was on the data and hypotheses around the likely success of the Common Core Standards and our role in improving their effectiveness.
Through data and anecdotes, Dr. Polikoff presented four facts about the state of K-12 instruction in the US, four roadblocks to the effective implementation of the standards, and four challenges and opportunities for research, policy and practice.
In Dr. Polikoff’s summary of the four facts presented above, the Common Core State Standards are less procedural, but slightly less procedural. They are also narrower and deeper (but not as much as other locales), and better structured with variations by grade.
He shifted to a focus on the roadblocks:
His focus then shifted to challenges and opportunities, outlining key areas:
Dr. Polikoff concluded that the Common Core State Standards are better than prior standards, but probably not as good as they could be. The difficulty of implementation makes for a huge challenge, but nonetheless, they are an improvement over the standards of the past.
Dr. Karen Symms Gallagher, Dean of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, welcomed conference participants and commended them on their contributions to improving opportunities for students. Dean Gallagher recognized the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice (CERPP) for organizing a powerful opportunity for educators to collaborate and described the other research centers and projects at the Rossier School of Education. CERPP and other centers contribute to the mission of improving educational outcomes for urban students through a variety of research foci. The centers include: Center for Urban Education (CUE) led by Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon, focusing on student success and retention; Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis (CHEPA) focusing on college access, led by Dr. Bill Tierney; and the Center on Educational Governance (CEG), with an emphasis on the design and impact of state standards and assessment systems, led by Dr. Priscilla Wohlstetter.
Additionally, USC has several research-based projects and partnerships within Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Work with the Math for America project places teachers who know and love math in the hard-to-teach schools. Many of USC's Masters in the Art of Teaching (MAT) pre-service teachers complete their guided practice in LAUSD schools. And, recently, the LAUSD school board approved the charter for USC Hybrid High, an innovative high school that aims to support students who are most at risk of dropping out.
Dean Gallagher used these examples to highlight the important relationship that USC shares with LAUSD and with that, welcomed LAUSD Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, Dr. Jaime Aquino.
Keynote Address: Advancing Learning District-wide
Dr. Jaime Aquino
Dr. Jaime Aquino, Deputy Superintendent from the Los Angeles Unified School District delivered a passionate keynote: “Public Education at a Crossroads: A Call for Quality Education”. Dr. Aquino began by sharing his own background as an immigrant and second language learner and describes himself as “living the American dream” and has a dream that all students will be afforded the opportunity to do the same.
Dr. Aquino reminded participants of the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which stated that everyone has the right to an education. We have made great progress, but he reminded us that the declaration must be amended to state that everyone has the right to a quality education. We are currently not fulfilling the promise of a better life, as some families have no choice but to send their children to failing schools.
He presented the 2009 NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) scores as evidence of the broken promise. More specifically, NAEP scores identified only 1/3 of US students as proficient in reading. Only 19% of Latino and 16% of African American students were considered proficient. Similar patterns emerged in math. Students in California demonstrated even lower proficiency rates and those in Los Angeles were still lower. Dr. Aquino concluded that the persistent problems in education have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable groups.
Ownership of these results resides in both K-12 and higher education systems. He notes that in K-12 education, we never hear about remediation attributed to unprepared teachers, who in turn were dispatched to K-12 schools from higher education institutions. Aquino asserts that it is just as unacceptable to send unprepared teachers to K-12 schools as it is to send unprepared students to higher education.
Dr. Aquino described the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as the most promising event in education in decades, as they are an opportunity to establish excellence and equity. Among the positives, the standards can move us from operating in state-based silos to working together collaboratively. He gave the pointed example of a student who, in the current state-based standards systems, may be designated proficient in one state, only to be designated non-proficient upon crossing state lines, solely because the standards differ.
In addition to the impact that inconsistent standards have on students, Dr. Aquino described his own experience of learning standards upon moving to a new state as “a waste of time”. He suggested that schools of education can provide a tremendous service to public education by training teachers to teach in accordance with the Common Core State Standards, as the alignment will benefit students across the states, and across the world.
Children can’t wait for adults to get their act together, according to Aquino. He warned that neither students nor the nation can afford the delay. Although the work we must do is challenging, it is not impossible. He highlighted a school and a system as examples of the potential for change. Denver Public Schools, for example, moved from “worst to first” after implementing a focused agenda on teaching and learning.
Dr. Aquino outlined elements that the radical transformation that is needed to change the education landscape will require. These include an agenda focused on students, high quality teachers, empowerment contracts, accountability systems, early child education, and better teacher preparation. He closed his presentation with a reminder that history will judge us based on how we meet the challenge of providing all students with their human right of a high quality education.