"How Can the Testing Community Help Advance Education Policy and Practice?" This was the question IES Director John Q. Easton posed to members of the assessment community during his remarks as the featured presenter at the opening plenary of the 2012 annual meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME).
Addressing the meeting's theme of "Supporting Student Success in a Global Economy: Methods, Practices, and Policies for Assessment and Learning,” Easton argued that the testing, assessment, and measurement community has a "vital role to play" in school improvement efforts and that there are many "front-burner issues" for this group to think about and be involved in.
Easton focused on three issues that he believes are important and related to how researchers and psychometricians can help promote and engage in school improvement now:
The Director also shared his views about non-cognitive skills and traits—such as grit, perseverance, and self-control, among others—measurable skills and concepts he believes have the potential to motivate students and mediate school success. Easton closed his talk by urging the measurement community to "engage with practitioners and policymakers to build better large-scale assessments, help make teacher evaluation systems more useful, re-imagine NAEP for the future, and bring the so-called non-cognitive skills back to the front burner. Use your technical skills to measure what's important, communicate across stakeholder groups, and advance school improvement."
In addition to giving the opening plenary address, Easton also made opening remarks during an NCME session on "Reading for Understanding: Assessment and Core Terms—Structured Demonstration."
The new Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) are up and running, and IES Director John Q. Easton highlighted the work of three of these labs in the area of college and career readiness at the recent AERA annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. As chair of the panel discussion "Re-Imagining Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships: The Regional Educational Laboratories," Easton stressed that the 2012–2017 RELs (awarded in January 2012) are tasked with conducting most of their work in the context of a research alliance. The vision for the alliances is one of long-term partnerships among practitioners, policymakers, and REL researchers and technical assistance providers that, over time, increase the quality, quantity, usability and relevance of the REL work. "It's exciting to watch the RELs form and nurture these alliances," Easton said. "They are really changing how the RELs plan and carry out their work."
Panelists included representatives from 3 of the 10 RELs.
IES Director Easton also participated in AERA discussions on higher education research, innovative programs for district-level evaluation, and nurturing consortia in the maelstrom of education reform.
Scientific peer review of research grant applications received in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 is now complete. In March, the Standards and Review Office completed the second and final round of grant reviews for FY 2012. Across all 29 research and research training topics that were competed this year by the National Center for Education Research and the National Center for Special Education Research, a total of 1,311 applications were received and processed. The applications were evaluated by a total of 369 reviewers on a record number of review panels (30).
In addition to the research and research training competitions, the Standards and Review Office also handled the peer review of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grant applications. The purpose of the SLDS competition, which is run by the National Center for Education Statistics, is to enable State education agencies to design, develop, and implement statewide, longitudinal data systems to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, disaggregate, and use individual student data. A total of 31 State education agencies submitted applications in FY 2012. The applications were reviewed by the SLDS review panel earlier this year.
The Standards and Review Office is grateful for the efforts and expertise of the hundreds of reviewers who participated in the peer review process this year. We couldn't have done it without you!